‘Glaciergate’ should not derail international climate efforts: Lord Smith

The chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, has hit out at the backlash of public opinion in the wake of repeated reports in parts of the media questioning the validity of climate science.

In a speech at the Henley Business School, Lord Smith said the ongoing media storm about the reliability of data did not alter the fact that the climate is changing.

He said the international community must take action to combat the consequences that would inevitably follow this rapid climate change.

“Recent challenges to one or two points in the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) reports do not mean that we do not need to worry anymore,” he said.

“Sloppily expressed emails at the University of East Anglia were irresponsible and very damaging. A blithe assumption that the Himalayan glaciers may melt by 2035 – when they won’t – should never have been inserted in the IPCC report.

“But let’s not allow one or two errors to undermine the overwhelming strength of evidence that has been painstakingly accumulated, peer reviewed, tested and tested again, and that shows overwhelmingly that our emissions of greenhouse gases are having a serious impact on the earth’s atmosphere, and that as a result climate change is happening and will accelerate.

“We should not underestimate the damage that has been done by the glee with which the sceptics have seized on the one or two scientific mistakes and used them to undermine the whole consensus about the evidence and the conclusions we need to draw from it.

“Gradually, the public here in the UK, and across much of Europe, had come to accept the reality and the urgency of climate change. There were still debates about what precisely to do to counter it, but at least the fundamental recognition was there. I think that is probably less true now than it was three months ago. And that is a tragedy. We need to take the argument back to the sceptics, and make the powerful, convincing and necessary case for climate change much clearer to everyone.”

The full speech can be seen here

Sam Bond

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