The new book [by Lovelock] will 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
It will also reflect his new opinion that global warming has not occurred as he had expected.
“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,” Lovelock said.
“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.
He pointed to Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” as other examples of “alarmist” forecasts of the future.
In 2007, Time magazine named Lovelock as one of 13 leaders and visionaries in an article on “Heroes of the Environment,” which also included Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev and Robert Redford.
“Jim Lovelock has no university, no research institute, no students. His almost unparalleled influence in environmental science is based instead on a particular way of seeing things,” Oliver Morton, of the journal Nature wrote in Time. “Humble, stubborn, charming, visionary, proud and generous, his ideas about Gaia have started a change in the conception of biology that may serve as a vital complement to the revolution that brought us the structures of DNA and proteins and the genetic code.”
Asked if he was now a climate skeptic, Lovelock told msnbc.com: “It depends what you mean by a skeptic. I’m not a denier.”
He said human-caused carbon dioxide emissions were driving an increase in the global temperature, but added that the effect of the oceans was not well enough understood and could have a key role.
“It (the sea) could make all the difference between a hot age and an ice age,” he said.
He said he still thought that climate change was happening, but that its effects would be felt farther in the future than he previously thought.
“We will have global warming, but it’s been deferred a bit,” Lovelock said.
As “an independent and a loner,” he said he did not mind saying “All right, I made a mistake.” He claimed a university or government scientist might fear an admission of a mistake would lead to the loss of funding.
One of the comments under Delingpole’s blog also reported (but didn’t provide a link) that last year Lovelock said:
“The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet.”
This is entirely plausible. It’s well known that cloud formation is not well understood. And that really means that the physics is incomplete: Some things are not understood.
In another comment, someone else remarked that Lovelock seems to have forgotten his own idea of a self-regulating Gaia (such as his Daisyworld, in which black daisies multiplied and absorbed sunlight when the earth was too cold, and white daisies multiplied and reflected sunlight when the earth was too hot). The same idea (and perhaps a better idea) is that when the earth heats up, more water evaporates into the atmosphere, and this forms more reflective clouds (the equivalent of white daisies) which cool the earth. Conversely when the earth cools, less water evaporates into the atmosphere, and cloud cover is reduced, allowing more sunlight to fall on the earth’s surface. However, since cloud formation is not well understood (and is also the subject of investigations by Henrik Svensmark), such a negative feedback process is unlikely to have been included into any climate model.
This is a refreshing change from someone who was saying not so long ago 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.
Other posts about James Lovelock.