Saturday, 19 December 2009

Copenhagen, another Kyoto cop out?

It appears that as I write some sort of face saving fudge has been reached at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. A US spokesman is reported by the BBC to claim “a historic step forward” after an agreement between the US, China, India and South Africa has been reached, adding “the deal was not enough to prevent dangerous climate change in the future - but was an important first move.” Barack Obama describes it as a foundation for action, before adding there was “much further to go”. There is no mention in this statement of the EU, the world’s largest economic trading block, which seems a little surprising. I can only assume it’s an oversight, seeing as how Europe has led the charge on climate change for well over a decade now.

So will this “historic step” amount to anything? My suspicion is no, not really; it is another voluntary agreement, just the same as Rio and Kyoto. People will hail the fact that the US have taken part at Copenhagen, and are prepared to sign up this time. So what, would be my response; if we look at how many of the signatories to the two previous ‘agreements’ came even close to meeting their voluntary targets then we see that these conferences are utterly meaningless. They do however give our politicians the opportunity to strut on the global stage, spouting rhetoric to sure up their ‘green credentials’, whilst many will on previous evidence have no intention, whatsoever, of even attempting to implement a single commitment.

The conference build up was overshadowed by the accusations of “climategate”, where scientists from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit were reputed to have suppressed evidence that there was a levelling out in the rising temperature trends over the last decade. This was followed by the Russians accusing the Met Office of “cherry picking” the weather station data from across their country in order to enhance the case for warming. The Met Office strenuously denies this charge and they say they choose a set of stations evenly distributed across the globe.

Who knows what the truth is; the mysterious thing to me over the last decade has been the idea that most people are quite happy to accept those scientists who are sceptical to be naturally corrupt and in the pay of the fossil fuel lobby, like modern day Dr Mengeles. At the same time there is a bizarre assumption that those meteorologists who agree with a warming hypothesis are beyond reproach, neutral and impartial; like some sort of noble Victorian gentleman scientist. Modern science is an expensive business, and regardless of what side of an argument a scientist finds himself on, he is funded by someone or other. In the vast majority of cases, because they have a vested interest in that research supporting their view, this will sometimes deliberately and often subconsciously impact the findings of that research.

On this basis; I like everyone else, assume the sceptics look to ‘find’ evidence which highlights their hypothesis, but I also assume the non sceptics (for want of a better term) are equally as biased as their counterparts. This is true in many other fields of science, so why people think it should be different in the field of climatic research a mystery; as such I wasn’t remotely surprised to hear of alleged ‘selection’ by the Climate Research Unit.

Incidentally I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the growing use of ‘totalistic’ language employed by green activists over the last few years; sceptics are painted as ‘climate change deniers’ which is quite frankly offensive, and mere climate change is no longer serious enough, it has to be ‘disastrous’ or ‘catastrophic’. This seems to be the language of a cult to me, where any dissent is no longer tolerated; there can be no other view or challenge to ‘consensuses’. These characteristics are counterproductive to the argument and will turn people off from the problem; hence 46% of people in the UK are supposedly sceptical of manmade climate change, according to a recent ICM survey.

I think that the case for Global Warming is now highly established and that pumping billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere is clearly effecting that process, however I also realise that those with the most to lose, should we try to reduce emissions are some of the richest and most powerful people in the world. The latter are the voices that global politicians hear, not ours; it doesn’t matter how hysterical the green movement becomes, they will stop using fossil fuels when they run out and not a second sooner. Sad, but unfortunately true, you may charge me with being too cynical, but I would suggest it is a realistic assumption based on history and human nature.

1 comment:

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