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Ecologist and scientist Peter Taylor has written an extraordinary book on climate change. It is also full of stimulating thoughts on energy, land use, biodiversity, housing, food production, migration, etc.
The warm years 1980-2005 followed the cool years 1950-80, in a natural cycle. He contends that these unusually warm years gave rise to the theory of unstoppable global warming.
He notes, "Most of the sea-level rise to date (and all other environmental effects laid at the door of 'global warming', such as the retreat of glaciers and calving ice shelves), can be accounted for by the rebound from the Little Ice Age. Indeed, the trend in sea-level rise from 1800 has been consistent, and in the last ten years, as the oceans have cooled, that trend has levelled off."
He studies satellite data, cloud cover, and ocean and solar cycles. Satellite data, particularly since 2005, has told us much that is new about the climate. Solar magnetic cycles drive cloud changes, which drive ocean temperatures. More sunlight means less cloud, warming the oceans. Cloud cover decreased 1980-2000. The consequent sunlight rise of 6 watts per square metre lifted temperatures by 0.60C, far more than the 0.8 watt rise due to carbon dioxide.
Cloud cover increased again after 2000, reducing sunlight by 2 watts per square metre. 2007 saw a sharp fall in the global surface temperature. The solar cycles are in decline, so we are more likely to face cooling.
The Arctic has heatwaves every 70 years; the previous one was in 1920-40. Another, in 2000-07, caused rapid ice loss there. But the record 2007 summer ice-melt was not repeated in 2008 (ice cover rose 30 per cent in October 2008, compared to 2007). 2007 saw record ice extent in Antarctica, in the poles' usual see-saw.
Taylor opposes our present market-driven energy policy. He proposes, "I make the startling conclusion that now is not the time to expand renewable energy supplies. A precautionary, no-regrets strategy would put all available funding into reducing consumer demand, better housing regulations and design, urban and industrial planning, heat distribution, small-scale CHP [Combined Heat and Power], micro-CHP in homes, and PV [photovoltaic] roofing."
He notes, "If all new housing were built to Scandinavian standards of energy efficiency, making use of passive solar technology, heat pumps, micro-CHP and PV roofs - there could be a net supply rather than demand from the growth in that sector."
He writes, "cities need to study the Cuban example of an economy that had to manage without cheap fossil fuel and fertilizer and yet developed effective educational and health programmes and an efficient organic agriculture." He urges us to promote cooperation and community, not competition.