Dr Alan Kendall: 'Science never used to have a consensus'

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Dr Alan Kendall is a senior lecturer in geology at the University of East Anglia who teaches a class in fossil fuels and climate change. He has vigorously opposed the Royal Society and George Monbiot's denunciation of research that is funded by oil companies.

The Royal Society is using the power of authority rather than reason and judgement when they condemn the research funded by oil companies. Science never used to have a consensus. I hope I teach my students to exercise their own judgement. There are schools of thought in different subjects but as far as possible they should be given free rein to reach their own conclusions.

I tend to teach in a different style from a different viewpoint from my colleagues. I have a very different background. I worked in the oil business for eight years and for six years on a government project in Saskatchewan.

George Monbiot has said that the lobby being paid for by the oil industry has dominated climate science. That's the exact opposite of the truth. Look at An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's climate change documentary; somebody's paid for that. Where's the equivalent on the other side?

I think that climate change is occurring but I don't think the majority cause is the rise of carbon dioxide. There are other much more major causes. There is quite a bit of evidence that it is due to changes in the sun's output.

People say that if we continue to increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere then that will mean global warming is far worse off. But suppose they're wrong and in fact we're heading for a new glacial period, as some Russian scientists believe. That would be much more devastating. Perhaps we should be pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

People are running scare stories about doubling carbon dioxide values. I find it difficult to see why they have these extreme views when the earth has survived much more extreme conditions than this. When chalk was forming carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were 10 times as high as they are now.

Were any human beings alive? No, but we went through a glacial period before. The temperature dropped by 4-5 degrees and going colder is more of an extreme climate change. But it made us evolve into the species we are. Yes, many people must have died, but as a species we became more adaptable.

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