Climate 2020 Group Lecture

2020 Climate Group Lecture Series

Last Wednesday evening, one of the last warm September evenings, I attended second of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group lecture programmes at St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church in Edinburgh presented by Samantha Barber and Dave Gorman.

Stephen Belcher, Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre spoke first with the facts regarding climate science and it’s relation to the weather. There is no doubt that the world is warming and it is statistically probable (9-out-of-10) that this is due to human activity, based on IPCC observations since 1850.
With this as a baseline, we can then start to expect the extremes – the wet 2012 and the warm 2003 will become the norm – however there remains a 30% change that there will be cold winters and wet summers which is a high probability within the trend. Understanding the nature of vulnerability and risk is the vital step in preparing for resilience.

Following Stephen was Professor James Curran, the Chief Executive of SEPA.
James’ talk reiterated the facts with a focus on atmospheric CO2: with planetary values at over 400ppm (by far the highest in recent millennia of history), still rising and with a risk of increasing rates of change through positive-feedback within this centuary the effects are not only for the next generations to deal with.

The discussion panel provided an informed and balanced debate including the speakers above plus Alex Hill (Met Office Chief Advisor), Peter Lederer CBE (Chairman of Gleneagles Hotels Ltd), Ian Marchant, Professor Pete Smith (Science Director of Scotland’s Climate Change Centre of
Expertise), Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) and Professor Sue Christie (Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Environment Link). The MSP gave closing remarks and helped round the discussion on the challenges of political leadership and policy, combined with the ability to react and change in the commercial sector and individual responsibility of the wider population.

The 2020 Group is not purely a vehicle for doom though – after Ian’s insights on the stage I found a piece of brilliantly titled writing explaining how with some alternative thinking our natural resources can make a significant difference: A Blog on Bogs

Update: (25 September 2013)
Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its six-yearly update on the state of the Earth’s climate. Now, rather than the 90 percentile figure referenced above, the figure is that there is a 95% (19-out-of-20) certainty that humans are the dominant cause of global warming since the 1950s. For a complete summary and links to the report see the BBC synopsis below:
BBC – UN climate report: Key findings