Man-made carbon emissions are staving off a new ice age, says a leading environmental scientist. Climate-change expert Dr James Lovelock says the greenhouse gases that have warmed the planet are likely to prevent a big freeze that could last millions of years.
In a talk at London’s Science Museum Dr Lovelock said the balance of nature was in charge of the environment.
He said: “We’re just fiddling around. It is worth thinking that what we are doing in creating all these carbon emissions, far from being something frightful, is stopping the onset of a new ice age.
“If we hadn’t appeared on the earth, it would be due to go through another ice age and we can look at our part as holding that up.
“I hate all this business about feeling guilty about what we’re doing.
“We’re not guilty, we never intended to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, it’s just something we did.”
Dr Lovelock’s comments come in the wake of the scandal at the University of East Anglia where leaked emails suggested climate change data had been manipulated.
The 90-year-old British scientist, who has worked for Nasa and paved the way for the detection of man-made aerosol and refrigerant gases in the atmosphere, called for greater caution in climate research.
He compared the recent controversy to the “wildly inaccurate” early work on aerosol gases and their alleged role in depletion of the ozone layer.
He said: “Quite often, observations done by hand are accurate but all the theoretical stuff in between tends to be very dodgy and I think they are seeing this with climate change. We haven’t learned the lessons of the ozone-hole debate. It’s important to know just how much you have got to be careful.”
According to Dr Lovelock’s Gaia theory, the earth is capable of curing itself. “A planet that is effectively alive can regulate itself and its composition and climate,” he said.
Thomas Crowley, professor of geoscience at Edinburgh University, responded: “People have thought about the possibility of an ice age but it wouldn’t be for many thousands of years.
“Dr Lovelock might be right in the abstract but this does not necessarily mean that CO2 is good now.”