Last night there was a documentary on Channel 4 (one of the main broadcasters on UK television), that essentially asked the question above. It was shocking and startling. There seems to be a very good chance that the answer to the question is no. Many atmospheric, oceanographic and biological scientists were interviewed, and they were not from the scientific fringe, they were from mainstream academia. All are of the opinion that the widely-held belief (for that is what it seems to be, a belief) that CO2 emissions from human activity cause global warming, is based upon bad science, and after viewing this program I agree with them. There are other theories about what causes global warming, most notably solar radiation, and for which the scientific evidence is more compelling than that for CO2 emissions.
I now find myself in the astonishing position of thinking that George Bush may have been right about this all along! Al Gore didn’t come out of the program too well either. But George Bush is still an idiot.
Just to clarify: there’s no debate about whether global warming is actually happening or not – it’s the cause of it that is the issue and whether (for instance) I should be paying an extra £40 tax for my transatlantic air fare to Canada in a couple of months, and (perhaps more to the point) whether I should be feeling guilty about flying at all.
This ties in with something that I think about quite a bit, the nature of the scientific method and what can happen when it doesn’t work – I’ll have more to post about this in the future, I’m sure.