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Climate change

Climate change from human activities is all around us

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 December, 2017, 10:14pm

I refer to the letter from G Bailey (“Many factors are affecting the climate”, November 21). Your correspondent tries to mix up climate and climate change.

Climate, of course, is affected by many natural factors including the sun, El Niño/La Niña, and so on. We talk about such topics regularly in blogs and articles which your readers can readily find on the Observatory website. And yes, we also talk about climate change, the unequivocal influence caused by human activities and the damaging impacts it brings.

As my colleague Mr Tong Hang-wai stressed on November 14, climate change is a long-term phenomenon on a global scale, and we look at observations and data across decades and centuries. Your correspondent singles out the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon as the defining factor in explaining away whether a year should be warmer/cooler – and hence glosses over the global warming issue.

Your correspondent is also mixing up climate projections and weather forecasting. The Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group I) produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was written by 259 authors from 39 countries, and reviewed by 800 experts and 26 governments.

It is a comprehensive process undertaken by climate change experts and renowned scientists in their respective fields from around the world, and as such not by weather forecasters sitting in their local forecasting offices.

G Bailey may consider the changes observed so far are minuscule. But considering the Paris Agreement, which sets a warming target of no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, we are already halfway there. It does not take that long, does it?

For sure it will be future generations that will pay the price if we choose to persist with a short-sighted mindset.

Lee Sai Ming, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory