Guus Berkhout: Climate Thinking. Broadening the Horizons
Climate change is a fact. It is not a modern phenomenon but has always been with us.
There has never been anything resembling a constant climate on our planet. Our climate has been continuously on the move. The Earth’s history tells us that very cold periods (‘glacials’) have always alternated with very warm periods (‘interglacials’). Travelling from a very cold to a very warm period and vice versa was not a smooth, predictable ride but a chaotic bumpy one. About 20,000 years ago we lived through the most recent ice age. Remains of this long, global winter are still visible. Today, we are living in a period of global warming; ‘business as usual’ in terms of the natural pattern of glacials and interglacials. It would be foolish to deny that.
The existence of climate change is beyond any doubt. The big question is: ‘What is the principal cause of today’s global warming? Is it mankind, or is it the natural system?’ Without knowing the answer to this question, mankind could end up like a modern Don Quixote, fighting a foolish and pointless battle. Current climate policies are based on the conviction that ‘the science is settled’ and that mankind is the principal cause of global warming. It is also believed that our technological capabilities will enable us to shape the Earth’s climate. But is there any scientific evidence for such a bold statement and for such an unconditional belief?
This essay gives an up-to-date overview of what we know and what we don’t know about climate change. It is primarily meant for the millions of interested laymen who are desperate to hear a truthful story they can understand. These people have become suspicious of being misled by climate alarmists. As a group, they have the potential to put pressure on politicians to stop the use of poorly validated models and to focus on evidence-based climate policies.
About the author
Guus Berkhout is emeritus professor in physics and seismic imaging at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. He is the founding director of the Centre for Global Socio-Economic Change (CFGSEC), a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and a senior member of the Netherlands Academy of Engineering (AcTI).