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What We Don't Know About CO2:

The science of climate change

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Robert Carter, Richard Corfield, Michael McIntyre. Gabrielle Walker hosts.

There is no question that CO2 levels are increasing due to human activity. But predicting the impact of this is less straightforward. Will our understanding of the world's climate system remain mired in complexity until it is too late? Or is apocalyptic thinking confusing the science?

The Panel

Cambridge atmospheric physicist Michael McIntyre, author of Lives of the Planets, Richard Corfield and palaeontologist Robert Carter try to clear up the future of the atmosphere.

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Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Richard Corfield
    The Pitch
    We can predict how CO2 is going to change the world
  • Robert Carter
    The Pitch
    Almost every aspect of climate science is the subject of vigorous debate
  • Michael McIntyre
    The Pitch
    We know so much about Carbon Dioxide than the maelstrom of confused polit
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    A Goldilocks' planet
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    The apocalyptic imagination
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    The World After Tomorrow
Join the conversation

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Bruce Schuck on 20/04/2014 4:54pm

Why would people living on low ground die if the oceans rose a tiny bit more every year? (The oceans have risen since the ice started melting 20,000 years ago). Are the people who going to drown really, really stupid?

lonetown on 20/04/2014 3:05pm

That is one of the saner discussions I've seen on the topic but very little debate.

Dr McIntyre seemed much more open to the discussion of the science than the typical believer in CAGW.

Thank you for that good discussion.

Stuart Large on 18/04/2014 5:22am

We know a doubling of CO2 will cause 3.7watts per sq meter warming (by about 2050) that equates to 1C (big deal) the positive feedbacks that they quote will happen because this warming, would happen with any warming not just from CO2, and common sense tells us if this could happen it already would have happened in the past, In fact if you check out what happened with severe 1998 El Nino both water vapor and temperatures spiked (as predicted by climate change) however when the El Nino event was over, temperatures and water vapor dropped like a stone (not as predicted by climate change) water vapor has negative feedbacks (transfer of heat by evaporation, condesation, and cloud cover altering albedo) as well as positive.

John Catley on 18/04/2014 1:55am

There were several references made to increased CO2 levels as a result of human activities.

Michael McIntyre seemed to believe that human activities had increased CO2 levels by 100% and we would be doubling and more into the future.

In fact anthropogenic contribution to all greenhouse gases including water vapour has been calculated as only 0.28% or 5.53% excluding water vapour.

Unfortunately, these values are seldom shown and are usually hidden away in the total.

Hannah Carter on 17/04/2014 5:20pm

It’s great to see three experts fighting it out without the need to be

media friendly. They’re right to highlight how the science gets distorted and manipulated by funding councils and the press. Whilst the possibility of objective facts in science is up for debate, it must be the goal of all scientists to pursue them.

Greg Mark on 17/04/2014 4:07pm

Michael’s analogy with complex systems highlights two important points to me. Firstly, the sensitive dependence on input conditions - climate change isn’t going to happen gradually - it’s very likely there’s going to be a tipping point that will very rapidly transform the planet. The second is the most problematic. We have very little hope of being able to predict when this will happen. Let’s hope we don’t get to find out.

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