The Mayor on climate science…and the responses

January 2013: The Mayor has used his latest Daily Telegraph column to consider our current winter weather period and pontificate what this means in terms of climate change saying ‘Something is up with our winter weather. Could it be the Sun is having a slow patch?’

For his column, the Mayor turns to the work of what appears to be his ‘theorist of choice’ Piers Corbyn (Boris has referenced his work twice before in July 2012 and December 2010) stating that “According to Piers, global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb.”

The Mayor then brings in his memories of childhood winters, moving on to referencing sun spots, both Shakespeare and JMW Turner, Aztec solar theories  and the effects of  something called the Maunder minimum.  After all of this, Boris then goes on to say: “Now I am not for a second saying that I am convinced Piers is right; and to all those scientists and environmentalists who will go wild with indignation on the publication of this article, I say, relax. I certainly support reducing CO2 by retrofitting homes and offices – not least since that reduces fuel bills. I want cleaner vehicles. I am speaking only as a layman who observes that there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility — however remote — that Corbyn is right. If he is, that will have big implications for agriculture, tourism, transport, aviation policy and the economy as a whole. Of course it still seems a bit nuts to talk of the encroachment of a mini ice age.”

Responses to Boris’s pontifications were both rapid and comprehensive. Carbon Brief were first to come forward with a really excellent article, including contributions directly addressing points raised by Boris from experts at Imperial College, the Met Office and UCL. A really interesting read that rightly concludes that :

Unfortunately polling data shows a significant number of people are still confused about what’s causing climate change. Fringe scientific theories receiving more attention than they warrant from some parts of the media – and some columnists – probably doesn’t help.”

Other reactions include The Guardian who reference the Carbon Brief article and Greenpeace who provide some additional analysis on Boris’s comments.  The Skeptical Science blog also provides a useful contribution to the debate on the issue of solar activity and climate change. The LSE’s climate change unit also responded via the New Stateman.  Meanwhile Piers Gough’s website says that “Piers was filmed by BBC Politics London Show discussion Sunday 27 Jan BBC1 11am A representative of Boris Johnson will be interviewed.” So it appears that the discussion will continue for at least a few more days…

Despite the controversies that have arisen around the Mayor’s comments, it should be mentioned that the Mayor has released comprehensive strategies on climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation in 2011.

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