It is time to wake up – and stop climate change

I AGREE with Alan Sarfas (YA Letters, Sep 16) that it is time for Essex to ‘wake up’, but for very different reasons.

Firstly, it should be pointed out that most of what he says is pseudo-scientific nonsense.

Anyone who has done GCSE Biology will know that it is not true that ‘the more CO2 we have, the better it is for all life forms’.

Perhaps Mr Sarfas would like to try breathing pure carbon dioxide (CO2) for a few minutes to test his hypothesis. He would be well advised to read the ‘Carbon dioxide poisoning’ article on Wikipedia first.

To suggest that there is somehow a conspiracy between western governments, environmentalists and scientists to raise ‘your tax burden… by 20 per cent’ is absurd. Besides, if the choice is between 20 per cent more tax and death, I know which I would choose.

While it is true that in the past, the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen as a result of temperature rise, it is also a cause of temperature rise in its own right.

The reason that temperature rises cause an increase in CO2 is that CO2 and methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2) are released from drying peat bogs, thawing permafrost, etc.

This creates a feedback loop – the hotter it gets, the more gases are released; the more gases that are released, the hotter it gets. This is not good news.

Mr Sarfas is right when he says that ‘it has been like that since time immemorial’. What he omits to mention is what has changed.

Over the last century and a half, humanity has been digging and pumping fossil fuels out of the ground in ever increasing quantities and burning them, releasing vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. So much in fact, that CO2 now makes up 385 parts per million (ppm) of the atmosphere.

From ice cores, we know that the highest it had gone in the last 400,000 years prior to the current rise was 280ppm.

What happens on other planets is certainly interesting scientifically, but bears little relation to our current problems as we have yet to find another planet that supports life. We also know that their temperature profiles differ greatly from the Earth’s.

So Essex does need to wake up – to scientific fact and the serious danger we, as a species, are in if we fail to act to reduce our carbon emissions sufficiently quickly to prevent runaway climate change.

A good start would be to sign up to http://1010uk.org – film director Franny Armstrong’s campaign to get everyone to reduce their carbon emissions by 10 per cent by the end of 2010.

More information is available from South East Essex Friends of the Earth at http://seefoe.org.uk/, by calling 08444 841239 or emailing info@seefoe.org.uk.

Denis Walker
Co-ordinator, South East
Essex Friends of the Earth
East Street, Southend

NOTE TO EDITOR: It is unhelpful for newspapers to continue to print items such as Mr Sarfas’s to ‘balance’ the views of those talking about climate change.

Climate change is scientific fact, about which there is no debate in the scientific community. The only debate now is about how bad it’s going to get, how quickly and what can be done about it.

NOTE FROM EDITOR: It is our intention on this page to allow our readers to air their views and allow others to form their own opinions.

It inspires constructive and sometimes passionate debate.

To deny someone the opportunity to give their view where there is no spite or intent to offend would be unnecessary censorship.

This is not the forum for my views. However, to say there is ‘no debate in the scientific community’ is incorrect. Dr David Bellamy, the popular and respected British botanist, and a group of like-minded scientists hold all-together different views to yourself on climate change. They also claim that science is on their side.

The debate, it seems, continues.

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