Michael McCarthy: These leaks do nothing to undermine the case for man-made global warming

CO2 concentration has increased by 23 per cent since 1958 - do you think this will have no consequence?

If you ever thought that academics or scientists were purer than the driven snow, and different from you and me in that they are not subject to scheming or petty jealousies or name-calling, a quick scan of the latest batch of hacked, pre-2009 emails from UEA's Climatic Research Unit will disabuse you. They are not all a pretty sight. No sir. But that's not the point.

The point is that, just like the entirely similar batch that were released in 2009 by the same hackers who, somewhere down the line, will be linked to the fossil fuel industry – well come on, ask yourself, who else is going to organise this – what they don't do is in any way undermine the case that the greenhouse gases that human society is pouring into the atmosphere in vast and ever-increasing amounts (currently increasing at 6 per cent a year) will cause the atmosphere to warm, with potentially disastrous consequences for mankind.

We know that carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, radiating back into the atmosphere the heat of the Sun – we have known it for more than a hundred years. No serious scientist disputes it. And we know, beyond any doubt, that CO2 emissions are soaring, not to say in runaway mode.

Some are absorbed in the Earth, but the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has now increased by 23 per cent since we first began to measure it precisely in 1958, from 315 parts per million then to 389ppm today. Do you think this increase will have no consequence? That somehow, defying the laws of physics, it will be cost-free? Really?

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