CICERO director Pål Prestrud has repeatedly been involved in verbal punch-ups with those dubious to human-induced climate change but has now become a climate sceptic, according to him.
In an interview with Stavanger Aftenblad, he does not acknowledge the doubters are right, “but I’m pointing out the obvious: the fact that our knowledge about climate change is uncertain.”
“A lot of climate research and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports is about to present and discuss this uncertainty,” he says.
Mr Prestrud is leaving the helm of CICERO (Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research — Oslo), stating that climate scientists have not been good enough at bringing forth the scientific uncertainties and weaknesses in climate knowledge.
What are researchers uncertain about, and what remains unchanging whatever?
“The uncertainty is about how the climate system works and the extent to which our emissions affect the temperature. We have problems figuring this out exactly because of different reinforcing and dampening mechanisms in nature,” he says.
Dare we take a chance on major, dangerous global warming, although it is obvious that global warming may also be entirely at the lower end of the scale regarding the probable?As an example, he refers to the fact that the atmosphere can hold more water vapour when it gets warmer. Warming will be amplified as water vapour is a powerful greenhouse gas. Nonetheless, climate scientists cannot give an unambiguous answer if you ask how much more water vapour the atmosphere contains.
“A lack of certainty in the calculations of these different mechanisms means that the range of expected warming this century lies between 1.4 and 6 degrees Celsius (about 34.5 to 42.8 Fahrenheit),” the CICERO director says.
Decreased solar radiation
He adds that climate scientists' responses and models are also uncertain due to natural climate change because of increased or decreased solar radiation, or large and frequent volcanic eruptions.
Self-termed ‘climate sceptic’ Mr Prestrud thinks the entire climate issue boils down to a matter of risk.
“Dare we take a chance on major, dangerous global warming, although it is obvious that global warming may also be entirely at the lower end of the scale regarding the probable?” he asks.
“The problem is that there is very little we can do the day it eventually turns out that global warming is becoming widespread and harmful to nature and society. Action must be taken now, therefore, before we know whether we’ll be getting a problem or not.”Oceanographer Cecilie Mauritzen will now succeed Mr Prestrud after his 10 years in the job.
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