Climate gamble: Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: "UK will profit by global warming" (report, 10 October)? Well, possibly for a period, until it gets ever hotter, but only if we ignore hardships elsewhere and if the climate trends assumed in the economic analysis turn out to be accurate. Unlike the real world, modelled climate scenarios tend to be rather simplistic, with slow and steady trends in temperature and related weather factors - and therein lies a risk. It is not unknown for natural systems to "flip" from one set of broadly stable conditions to another set, over a relatively short period of time.

The scenarios leading to "feelgood" predictions such as those you report ignore the possibility of rapid changes. These would make life much more difficult for the UK and others than the headline suggests, but unfortunately we have only a very limited understanding of the probability or timing of such events in relation to climate change.

Policy-makers thus appear to be being encouraged to gamble for very high stakes, at uncertain odds, rather than adopt a precautionary approach that could itself stimulate the economy.


Cheltenham, Gloucestershire