Environmentalists and climate researchers firmly on this side of the climate change issue are not going to read this with equanimity. James Lovelock, the British maverick climate scientist who was well known for writing several doom-and-gloom books predicting a sizzling world by century’s end has retracted his “extreme” views.
Make note, however, that he is not a “denier.” He still believes that climate change is real and happening – just not at the alarming speed which he had proposed as recently as 2006.
In fact, Lovelock was known to paint some of the direst visions of a future world collapsing under the duress of a heated planet. In a 2006 article for the UK’s Independent he said that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”
He now says he had been “extrapolating too far.”
Lovelock attributes his mistaken predictions to climate models that were primitive back twenty years ago. “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” he said.
Lovelock also now believes that Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” are similarly alarmist – and mistaken.
“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said. “The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.
Lovelock fell out with the environmental movement when he began championing the building of nuclear power plants to offset carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels in his last book The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back – and How We Can Still Save Humanity.
Lovelock is writing a new book, due to be published next year, which will be the third in a trilogy, following his earlier aforementioned Revenge and The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy It While You Can. The new work will rectify the mistakes he made, he said. It will also discuss how humanity can change the way it acts in order to help regulate the Earth’s natural systems, performing a role similar to the harmonious one played by plants when they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.