Climate row sparks debate around world

THE row over the Environment Minister's controversial climate change scepticism stormed into its fifth day yesterday, with comments coming in from around the world.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson penned an article in last Friday's News Lettter in which he expressed strong doubts that global warming is caused by man.

Thousands of people from around the world logged into the News Letter website to read his views and dozens joined in the debate.

Many of the posters supported Mr Wilson while around a third have condemned him.


Writing from Canada, Tom Harris of the International Climate Change Coalition, said: "I wish more environment ministers had the courage to say what is real and get on with protecting the environment on things that we actually can influence."

In the wider debate, Dr Graham Savidge, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, agreed that the earth's climate has continuously changed as a result of natural processes since the earth was formed.

"What is different at the present time is the increase in carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere which can be reliably related to man's activities, especially the use of fossil fuels," he said.

"The effort and level of international cooperation involved in making the climate change predictions have been held to be a model of scientific good practice."

But Dr Patrick Moore, who describes himself as the longest serving founding member of the environmental group Greenpeace, supported Mr Wilson.

He said that global temperatures have been dropping since 1998, even though CO2 levels – blamed by many for climate change – have been rising in the same period.

Dr Moore says that there are a number of scientists from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who do not believe climate change is man-made "but their views are ignored".

He is certain there is a climate of fear in academia on climate change, with people afraid to speak out for fear of losing funding.

The News Letter asked Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster if they would take part in a survey to find out how many of their scientists believed climate change is man-made.

The University of Ulster emailed its scientists the question, with three responding that they did believe climate change is man-made.

But a QUB spokeswoman declined to take part in the survey. She said: "Queen's is happy to facilitate journalists' queries when addressed to individual academics. It is not feasible to distribute mass surveys on behalf of external bodies."

One senior Northern Ireland academic in the field was afraid to talk on the record.

He was scathing about economist Sir Nicholas Stern, whose alarming report for the Government last year predicted that global warming could shrink the world's economy by 20 per cent.

The academic described Stern as "a politician".