James Lovelock on climate change: “I was wrong”

by Richard on April 25, 2012

Prof James Lovelock, most famous for his Gaia hypothesis, has been in the news for his change of heart over climate change.

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time … it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising - carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.”

My friend Mark Byron has been kind enough to ponder, “I’d be interested to see what the Connexions folks think on this one.” I think Lovelock is wrong to consider the last 12 years as statistically significant, but let’s leave that to one side. Much more seriously, look again at how extreme the views on which Lovelock has turned his back are. His book “Revenge of Gaia” claimed that billions would die by the end of the century. This is not a mainstream climate scientist rejecting the whole theory of climate change, but rather someone who is recognizing that his predictions might have been a tad OTT. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Here’s John Polkinghorne’s response to Lovelock’s book:

What about James Lovelock’s ultra-frightening new prediction on the effects global warming will have on the human population within the next 60-some years. As I’m sure you know by now, he has predicted that upwards of 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century and what’s left will be trying to stay alive near the north and south poles. Your opinion on these warnings and how, as Christians, we should feel about it would be much appreciated.
Response: the “Revenge of Gaia” predictions appear to be scaremongering, although it is very hard to be certain of anything long-term. It is very clear that climate change is a serious problem, and that radical solutions will be required, some involving social changes and some involving large-scale applications of technology. For example, Lovelock has also proposed a very interesting approach to helping “global cooling” with wave-operated pumps. Christians should be engaged in these issues, without succumbing to the Neo-Paganism that elevates the Environment into a Godess. Anything that poses serious risks to the lives of millions, or billions, needs to be taken seriously as part of our duty to be stewards of God’s world.

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Pam 04.25.12 at 11:14 pm

It’s never easy to have a ‘change of heart’, to say “I was wrong”. Prof Lovelock, well done.

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