It’s not often nowadays that we hear good things about climate change and the issues we face, but maybe there is some upbeat news to share after all. Even though this last September has already been declared the hottest ever on record, none other than Professor Michael Mann has come out pitching with some optimistic info. For those who don’t know Dr Mann is one of the foremost climate scientists in the world, and part of the team which created the famous ‘hockey stick’ model of carbon emissions which is still a reliable pointer to the impact of our human emissions on the planet.
Speaking in a recent series of interviews in the US and UK media, Professor Mann revealed a shift in thinking by climate scientists which could indicate that we still have all to play for in tackling the crisis of the age. He first laid to rest any lingering doubts on whether scientists agree on global warming and climate change. As he explained succinctly: “There’s about as much scientific consensus about human-caused climate change as there is about gravity.” However he followed this up with an even more startling revelation.
There has been, he explained, a recent shift in understanding by the climate scientists studying our predicament, which gives hope that we may still have time to tackle the worst of the effects of our carbon emissions.
“Research over the past 10 years, however, has revised this vision of the climate system. Scientists used to “treat carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as if it was a simple control knob that you turn up” and temperatures climb accordingly, “but in the real world we now know that’s not what happens,” Mann said. Instead, if humans “stop emitting carbon right now…the oceans start to take up carbon more rapidly.” The actual lag effect between halting CO2 emissions and halting temperature rise, then, is not 25 to 30 years but, per Mann, “more like three to five years.”
Now Dr Mann is known for his fierce opposition to the ‘doomster’ view of the human condition, but even so this statement is a real fillip to those who are fighting to raise awareness and educate people that climate change can still be fought. If it proves to be valid, and no doubt the theory is undergoing rigorous peer review as we speak, then this is very. good. news. indeed. This doesn’t mean we can be complacent at all, but it is a glimmer of hope in what has become a sea of awful news over the recent few years. The US interview segment can be found here and here is the companion interview in The Guardian newspaper .