The big surprise for me this week was realising how little I know about the earth systems mechanics of climate change. I have long been concerned by climate change, beginning as a direct activist against tropical logging, new roads and other climate damaging developments in the early 1990s. This activist experience, combined with many conversations, books read, internet research and 25-year old GCSE chemistry, had led me to be fairly confident that I knew what I was talking about when discussing human-made climate change. Now I find I was wrong, that the greenhouse effect does not operate the way I thought and that carbon dioxide is not the main climate altering gas.
I am delighted to have my assumptions challenged, and my knowledge realigned. In this way I can become a more effective communicator and campaigner. Which I still need to be. Because, as my peer group and internet research is continuing to tell me, while I may have been wrong about the earth science, I am not wrong about the devastating potential of human-induced climate change. I may not have understood the mechanics, but I understand the effects all too well.