Right of Reply: David Cromwell

A climate research scientist at the Southampton Oceanography Centre responds to Charles Arthur
I USED to think Charles Arthur was your science correspondent, but now I realise that all along he was your apologist for business as usual ("Can't stand the heat? Plant trees", 3 August). Apparently "the pell-mell nature of modern capitalism won't let us slow down", so to cope with global warming "we need to plant more trees."

Such flippancy from Mr Arthur obscures the fact that tackling human-induced global warming is of paramount importance. To stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at non-catastrophic levels, the UN's Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change stated that emissions from human sources would have to be reduced immediately by at least 60 per cent below 1990 levels. How did Mr Arthur manage to write an article dealing with climate change, without mentioning this conclusion from the world's top scientists?

To achieve the IPCC target, we should set a target of 30 years to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70-80 per cent below 1990 levels, and 50 years for a near total phase-out of fossil fuels. This is the very minimum that the current crisis demands. We should end the exploration and development of new oil, coal and gas reserves, and implement instead a crash programme of investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation, and green public transport. We must also end destructive agriculture and deforestation, and curb society's reliance on large-scale global trade which increases the distances that goods are transported, resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions. Such measures will help us avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Oh yes, and let's plant lots more trees.