JAMES LOVELOCK: NOBODY REALLY KNOWS THE FUTURE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
IT’S not every day you get to meet a scientific hero – an earth scientist and inventor who worked for NASA in its infancy and helped to discover the devastating impact of CFC gases upon the ozone layer.
Chatting down the phone from his west Dorset home, the 96-year-old is everything (as a surprisingly nervous science geek) you hope he will be – witty, insightful and engaging.
The Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) patron clearly has a very soft spot in his heart for Dorset and is delighted to be living in “one of the best bits of the whole country.”
He has lived in and around the south all his life.
He said: “Dorset is very much a part of my life. I walked through it as a child and an adult. I have always been very fond of it. I have worked here both as a writer and managing an MoD site at Winfrith. I first came here in 1929 as a child to Swanage for a couple of weeks and spent time walking around the coast.”
His association with DWT is deep rooted. He used to visit Cranborne Chase and “grew very fond of it,” becoming a lifelong member of DWT in the late 1950s and has made charitable donations to the charity.
Mr Lovelock said it was a “nice feeling” to be made a patron. He said: “There’s talk of making Dorset and Devon into a national park and I hope it comes off. It should happen.
“To have Dorset as a park would be a great idea.”
He was pleased the Navitus Bay wind farm development didn’t get the go ahead, as the energy that would be produced “wouldn’t be very reliable.”
A more sensible idea would be to create a solar farm in the Sahara, he suggested. This would create enough energy for Europe, but was unlikely to happen, Mr Lovelock added.
Climate and energy production is not surprisingly one of his main concerns. But as to predictions about the future, he is far less certain, saying:
“I think anyone that tries to predict more than five to ten years ahead is a bit of an idiot, so many things can change unexpectedly.”
He added that global warming proponents stated that the earth would get hotter and hotter but “they don’t really know,” and climate models are only based on what data goes into them, so it was hard to say what would happen in the future.
Mr Lovelock is interested in what can be measured, what can be observed.
So for example the sea temperature around Chesil Beach being so low and the effects of the Gulf Stream dropping ‘significantly’.
He said: “That’s one reason global warming hasn’t been so noticeable around here. Far from being an automatic warming up. If the sea starts moving the currents in different directions we get quite cold conditions.”
He said: “The other thing I predict, everyone will be living in cities towards the end of the century,” adding: “This is a trend all over. What’s left of the rest of the world is difficult to predict.”
“Don’t try and save the world, it’s pure hubris. We might be able to save Dorset. I don’t know how we do it. It’s up to us. I think it’s easier to save Dorset than the planet.”
Adding: “There’s one thing to keep in mind here. We don’t need to save the planet, it’s looked after itself for four billion years. It’s always been habitable and things have lived on it, so why worry.”
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