I ordered a copy of The Doomsday Syndrome by John Royden Maddox for New Year Reading.
Maddox is an interesting character. He was a physicist, science writer, and for many years editor of the journal Nature. Readers may be interested in this 2009 obituary by Lawrence Solomon...
Sir John Maddox, the legendary editor of the science journal Nature, died this week at age 83. The obituaries were laudatory, as might be expected given his role, over a 22-year career, in elevating Nature to one of the world’s great journals.
But few obituaries referred to Maddox’s reputation as a skeptic of doomsaying environmentalism and a skewerer of politically correct science.
In a 1997 interview he had this to say about the ABC's current bugbear.....
Global warming is the scenario that's supposed to happen when, because of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the temperature on the surface of the earth is increasing. I'm in a very odd position on this. I accept that global warming, because of carbon dioxide, is going to be a reality at some stage in the future. I disagree with the way in which the forecasts have been made by the organization called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is under the UN umbrella, although it's really a child of the United Nations Environmental Agency and the World Meteorological Organization.
These people have produced so far two assessments of the seriousness of global warming, and they predict that during the next century the temperature will increase by between two and three degrees centigrade - which doesn't sound much but actually would be a lot. This is the average temperature, and that would mean that in places like the southern Sahara it would become even more like a desert, and it might even mean that in some parts of the United States, like Texas, it would become a bit like the Sahara.
But the real problem is that all this is based on computer modeling, and while I'm fully enthusiastic about computer modeling as a way of understanding scientific problems, and comprehending large amounts of data, I think it's dangerous to rely on computer modeling when you are trying to make predictions about the real world. In fact the satellites that have been used to measure the temperature show that the temperature is increasing less rapidly than the computer models predict, by a factor of three. So I think that the scenario is less gloomy than the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change says.
Based on the evidence I think so to! Best Wishes to readers and their families over the Christmas and New Year period. We shall return in 2014 once again to be a small thorn in our old Aunty's thick backside.
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