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The debate over global warming is over and every scientist, and even Sammy Wilson, accept that as a concrete reality. The debate about global warming being fought now in the arena of the cause of the temperature rises. The majority of scientists now agree that the greenhouse efect is a man made phenomenon, and that unless we attempt to reverse the effects, all of us including Sammy are in a lot of trouble.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, which since 1990 has worked to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us, the scientific evidence is compelling: “To gain an understanding of the level of scientific consensus on climate change, a recent study examined every article on climate change published in peer reviewed scientific journals over a 10-year period. Of the 928 articles on climate change the authors found, not one of them disagreed with the consensus position that climate change is happening or is human-induced.”

These findings contrast dramatically with the popular media’s reporting of climate change. One recent study analysed coverage of climate change in four influential American newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and the Wall Street Journal) over a 14-year period. It found that more than half of the articles discussing climate change gave equal weight to the scientifically discredited views of the sceptics.

This discrepancy is largely due to the media’s drive for balance in reporting. Journalists are trained to identify one position on any issue, and then seek out a conflicting position, providing both sides with roughly equal attention. Unfortunately, the “balance” of the different views within the media does not always correspond with the actual prevalence of each view within society, and can result in unintended bias. This has been the case with reporting on climate change, and as a result, many people believe that climate change is still being debated by scientists when in fact it is not.

This is clearly not Sammy Wilson’s view. On the Politics Show 9/2/2009, he claimed that 43% of climate change scientists agreed with his view. Where this study was published he did not say, and he again used that figure on Channel Four News later that day. I have looked for this report on the internet for weeks and cannot find it. However, most climate change sceptics will point to the most well know theory of non man made climate change is that of “solar forcing”, and it appears through his two appearances on the TV that Sammy Wilson supports that view.

Of the climate change sceptics not funded by the oil lobby, the most reputable are Knud Lassen of the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen and his colleague Eigil Friis-Christensen. They did some research in 1991, and found a strong correlation between the length of the solar cycle and temperature changes throughout the northern hemisphere. Initially, the used sunspot and temperature measurements from 1861 to 1989, but later found that climate records dating back four centuries supported their finding. This relationship appeared to account for nearly 80% of the measured temperature changes over this period. Two other scientists, Damon and Laut from the US, however, showed that when the graphs are corrected for filtering errors, the sensational agreement with recent global warming which drew worldwide attention, has totally disappeared. Despite this, the well funded sceptic propaganda is still using this discredited data.

So the reality of the debate that is happening within the worldwide scientific community is that there are no credible theories to support the view that the increase in temperature change since 1980 is anything other than a man made phenomenon. Any attempt to do so is intellectually bogus and needs to be backed up by referral to scientific papers that informed that view (quite difficult as there are none which have not been systematically refuted).

For most people this lead on to a larger question. What would induce the Environment Minister to back a thoroughly discredited view? The answer lies in politics rather than science.

Politics for the Alliance Party is about telling the truth, and trying to persuade people to change. Politics for Sammy Wilson is about getting his name in the paper. The DUP gutlessly stood behind him when the Environment Committee and the Executive wanted to call him to account, hiding behind tribalism. That was a disgrace and it shows the failings in a non-accountable system.

However, I believe that we must keep this pressure on and continue to expose the fallacy of the arguments that climate change deniers continually spout. Not for political gain but so our future generations can look us in the eye without scorn or shame.

Green road to recovery: FARRY
Speech by Stephen FARRY on motion at Alliance Party Conference
21 March 2009

The Northern Ireland Executive did not cause the current global economic downturn. Even the Alliance Party would concede that. Indeed, many of the solutions lie beyond their reach and scope. Read More

A FORMER Castlereagh councillor has expressed outrage at the Environment Minister’s decision to allow 550 homes to be built in Cairnshill.

And Mrs. Margaret Marshall, who is the chairperson of the Alliance Party’s Castlereagh South Association, has called on the Department of the Environment to build a suitable play area in the borough.

Speaking after the announcement from Lord Dubs, the Alliance spokeswoman said:

“I absolutely deplore the DoE’s decision to build 550 new homes in the Cairnshill area of Castlereagh – it is an absolute disgrace.

“I attended the public inquiry in 1997 as an objector to the building of more homes and I emphasised the need for a children’s play area. And even though I attended the public inquiry, I have to hear of the minister’s decision from the media.

“1,500 new homes have already been built in this area and there is not one single play area for the children. However, I also think a public park should be built in the Cairnshill area – not more private dwellings.

“The DoE have always given planning permission without any requirements for open space, cycle tracks and play areas – so why can’t they do it in the Cairnshill area.”

Meanwhile the former councillor has called on Lord Dubs to build a “much needed” community centre in Cairnshill and urged DoE chiefs to allocate land for the centre “immediately”.

MEMBERS of the Conservation Volunteers should be commended by Carrickfergus Borough Council for their refurbishment work along the Blackhead Path, according to a local councillor.

The Alliance Party’s Robin Cavan, who is a councillor for the Kilroot area of the borough, made the claim after visiting the historic path last weekend.

He described the work by the volunteers as “tremendous” and said the council should take “immediate steps” to honour the group’s efforts.

Assisted by a £5,000 grant from Carrickfergus Borough Council, the conservationists have worked on the path’s ‘golden stairs’ and have constructed a drainage channel to cope with outbreaks of heavy rain.

Councillor Cavan, who is a constant visitor to the path, also said the work carried out by the volunteers will be a “major boost” to walkers and ramblers in across East Antrim.

“After visiting the path last weekend, and viewing the work that was carried out by the conservation volunteers, I think it is only proper that the local council should commend the group,” said Mr. Cavan.

“The money they received from the council has been put to good use and they have worked tirelessly to refurbish the path.

“Their work means that all types of people will be able to enjoy the path and I hope that people do use it because it has a lot to offer.

“It is a vital part of the borough’s tourist industry and the walk along the path is both pleasurable and enjoyable for people of all ages,” he added.

THE Alliance Party’s environment spokesperson has called on Castlereagh Borough Council to launch a “modern” waste management and recycling programme.

Councillor Geraldine Rice, who is the vice-chair of her council’s technical services committee, made the claim after receiving a flood of complaints about the lack of waste disposal facilities in the borough.

She said that, for Castlereagh to maintain its status as one of Northern Ireland’s premier boroughs, it was essential for the council to address the issue with the “utmost attention”.

“Pollution and waste are aspects of a global problem but they are very relevant to the borough of Castlereagh,” explained the Alliance councillor.

“We all know that the issue of pollution is a major problem in Northern Ireland but we must all do our best to keep our local areas clean.

“That’s why I have called on my local council to launch a modern waste disposal and recycling programme. We may have a large landfill site in the borough but it is clear that there is much room for improvement.

“I can’t understand why Castlereagh council, which claims to be a premier borough, has not introduced a sufficient waste management and recycling programme.

“But I think that part of this is down to the cost of introducing a comprehensive recycling and recovery programme.

“We all know that the government taxes on landfill sites will inevitably make them much more costly and we also know that the government are committed to reducing landfill sites.

“And I would also hope that my fellow councillors support my proposals to launch a new waste management and recycling programme,” added Mrs. Rice.

The future of waste disposal in Larne and Carrickfergus should be addressed by the Department of the Environment within the next few weeks, Alliance Councillor John Campbell has claimed.

Councillor Campbell, who congratulated Larne Borough Council’s Mr. Maurice Crum for his efforts in highlighting the problem, said that decisions – including those from council officers – should be made for future planning.

Councillor Campbell said: “The issue of waste disposal is a matter of grave importance for the people of Larne and Carrickfergus. That’s why the matter should be addressed immediately.

“We need to have some serious technical thinking from the DoE, Larne and Carrickfergus borough council and from the relevant agencies involved with the waste disposal industry.

“I think we need to have an alternative to the land fill site method of waste disposal and I also believe that we should be looking at new systems of dumping. This has been a continuing problem and we must find a solution.

“I also understand that the tipping of the council’s bin lorry provides the biggest cost – apart from council wages – to the council. The issue of the environment is vitally important and I firmly believe that it must be addressed before the year 2000.”

Ards Alliance Councillor Kieran McCarthy has praised the residents of a County Down village for opposing a Department of the Environment plan to build a major sewage plant between Kircubbin and Greyabbey.

Alderman McCarthy, who is a member of the Stormont Talks Team and Strangford representative at the Northern Ireland Forum, claimed that residents from Kircubbin were “vehemently” opposed to the scheme.

The Kircubbin Councillor, who attended a special protest meeting at Downpatrick’s Rathkeltair House last Wednesday, insisted that concerned villagers would continue to oppose the plan from “every angle”.

Mr. McCarthy and Friends of The Earth representative Mr. Dennis Reid held a brief meeting with DoE officials at Rathkeltair House in Downpatrick last Wednesday and over 100 letters of objection and a petition with 200 names were presented to planners.

The Kircubbin delegation was also joined by around 100 of the village’s placard and banner weilding residents and school children.

Mr. McCarthy, who will be seeking clarification from the DoE at his next Council meeting, described his meeting with planners as “constructive”, but said that residents should continue with the fight to have the plans shelved.

Alderman McCarthy said: “I would like to commend the villagers from Kircubbin and the surrounding area for taking such a firm stand on this issue. Their level of support has been tremendous.

“I was surprised to see so many people at the protest meeting at the Planning Office in Downpatrick – it simply demonstrates the level of opposition that the plans have generated.

“Everyone from Kircubbin to the shores of Strangford Lough are determined to prevent this scheme from going ahead. If the plan goes ahead, then it will be very close to our homes, schools and play areas.

“And any tankers taking away sludge from the expanded sewage works will put the lives of the residents of Church Avenue, Church Grove and Boyd Avenue in jeopardy. However, villagers will also face environmental and noise problems.

“I understand that residents are determined to step up the pressure to have the plans abandoned and they have already gone back to the drawing board. I would also call on the DoE to go back to the drawing board and reinstate confidence among the villagers”.