The chief scientific adviser to the government, Sir Mark Walport, has told MPs not to expect any benefits from a warmer climate, adding that the effects in the long-term will be harmful.
Walport was commenting on science journalist and climate denier Matt Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist, which argues that climate change will more beneficial to the UK than it will harmful.
He said, “Whilst there may be trivial benefits in some parts of the world for some of the time, the long-term direction for all of us is a negative direction.”
Walport added that despite imperfect climate models used by scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the crucial findings remain valid.
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“The question is, when do you take out fire insurance? If you take out your fire insurance by the time the first storey of your house is in flames, then you’re a bit late”, he said.
“The metaphor I use is, what price a grandchild? And if not what price a grandchild, then what price a grandchild’s grandchild?”
A similar claim that global warming will bring benefits to the UK was made by the environment secretary Owen Paterson in September last year. He said that warmer temperatures could prevent more cold deaths in the winter and boost food production.
In related news, energy and climate change minister Greg Barker told the energy select committee that no “serious” voice in the government denies the science behind climate change.
“I don’t know any serious voice in government that is questioning the Climate Change Act or the overall science of climate change”, Barker said.
“I think the number of people who are refusing to accept that the climate is changing or that man has a role in that are diminishing and I think are given disproportionate airtime on the media.”
Barker previously told delegates at a Financial Times event in October that no members of the cabinet questioned the need to act on dangerous climate change.