The ‘Financieele Dagblad’ of 27 january 2005 once mentioned: 'Climate Change Horror scenario based on mistake' and 'Kyoto under pressure'. One would think that the issue of climate change did not exist. But this conclusion would be wrong. ‘Uncertainty’ is not to be confused with ‘unlikelihood’. All criticism on the Kyoto-protocol has nothing to do with the world’s changing climate. In fact, the Kyoto agreement is not far-fetched enough.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) concluded in 2001 that the past decade was the hottest of the milennium. The now disputed study by Mann et al. was only one of many studies used. The subsequent analysis by McIntyre and McKitrick shows that medieval times are cooler (0.6 degrees Celsius warmer) than the most recent years (0.8 degrees warmer). This certainly does not invalidate the accelerated greenhouse gas effect.

former president Bush had once commisioned the American science academy to double check the IPCC-rapport, in a committee with both ‘adepts' and 'climate cynics'. This committee re-confirmed all conclusions.

The IPCC is, unlike suggested, not a politicised organisation. It was founded by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme to objectively and transparently evaluate and summarise developing scientific insights into the issue of climate change. Similar panels exist regarding the ozone layer, bio-diversity and water. The IPCC reports are carefully produced. Both the authors and the country delegates have to agree on the summariy findings. Fine details disappear, but controversial
issues show up even more clearly. The review process of the IPCC is much more stringent than the so-called scientific 'peer review'.

We presented results at the symposium 'Climate Stabilisation Targets', organised by Tony Blair as G8-chairman. Everywhere on earth the effects of climate change are visible. In 2001, the IPCC observed thirty instances of changes in the natural environment that were directly contributable to climate change. This number is rapidly increasing: almost a hundred in 2002 and more than five hundred now.

In The Netherlands, the annual growing season starts earlier each year. The Dutch flora was recently enriched with 41 thermophile species. Mediterranean insects and lichens are becoming more and more common. Migratory birds are returning too late for breeding success. At sea also, several species are shifting to the North. The effects appear much more widespread and faster than model studies predicted.

Our conclusion is that the effects on nature are under-estimated. A KNMI analysis of European weather patterns shows us why: changes are caused by a more frequent occurrence of extreme weather conditions. Models use averages, not extremes. But real animals do react to these extremes.

The Climate Treaty wants to reduce human interference in the climate, which affects food security and the resilience of eco-systems. In my opinion, the climate should not be allowed to warm up more than 1.5 degrees. Otherwise, man and nature run an unacceptable risk.


Prof. Dr. Rik Leemans, Wageningen Universiteit, lead author IPCC & co-chairman of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Source: ‘Financieele Dagblad’, 2005

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