Times journalist Matt Ridley joins the real climate debate

The Times’ resident climate sceptic’s response to a recent climate study, though rather unconvincing, may mean the debate can move on.

Climate scientists don’t usually expect to hear their work endorsed by self-professed climate change sceptics. Matt Ridley, a sceptic and a writer for the Times, recently pointed to a study in Nature Geoscience that used a conservative model and lower warming estimates (1.3°C) as ‘evidence’ that one of the Met Office models, which gives higher estimates of global warming projections (2.5°C), was leading to misguided policy. But no one, writes Myles Allen, author of the study in question, relies on a single climate model any more – the Met Office included – and they haven’t for a good two decades.

Any scientific evidence the Met Office gives that might guide policy will be based on a range of models. Furthermore, one study with a lower warming estimate does not mean that climate change is nothing to worry about; it just means that, under this conservative model of change, the impacts of climate change might happen a few years later than under a different model. The impacts will still be felt by the next generation, and will still be theirs to negotiate and adapt to as best they can.

Even if sceptics decide that lower temperature rises in some studies mean they’re right, perhaps, Allen says, it might mean we can stop talking about whether it’s happening, and start talking about things like regional impacts and what to do about it all.