There you are – perfect example of the ‘law of inverse optimism’!
The moment that I suggest it might all be going well in
Meantime, we have had violent clashes between Danish police and protesters over the weekend; UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urgently told nations to get on with it and "seal a deal"; the British Environment minister has been telling us about the perils of ocean acidification (another result of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere); and the world conservation union has announced that it is not all just about the polar bear (we know).
Meanwhile, climate has fallen off the front page of most British newspapers already.
Time is, however, really running out now!
More about ocean acidification and the whales here. BBC blow by blow blog from the conference here.
There you are – perfect example of the ‘law of inverse optimism’!
So we come to the end of the first week of the climate summit in
We also know now that President Obama will join the summit towards its end next week, further signalling serious engagement from the
To coincide with the summit Bristol University has launched some scary new information about ocean acidification (another product of excess CO2 in the atmosphere) which underlines a significant threat to marine systems (although I cannot find a link to paper on this just advance press notice – so I cannot point you at the research yet).
This all seems surprisingly positive given early concerns that nothing would be agreed. Is it possible that the
What is less positive is the outburst of outspoken views of the climate-change ‘nay-sayers’ who continue to state that this is all a big con. Indeed it is reported that only about half the people in the
We probably all have some sympathy with this. But what do those governments seeking a negotiation and pledging money to help do so even at this difficult economic time, have to gain beyond addressing this urgent threat? Equally, what have all these scientists standing together in their call for action got to benefit? Promotion of their careers? There could be an element of this. There is no doubt that climate scientists have become important scientists as this issue has developed. But they could still be important and successful scientists without making a call for action which some characterise as extreme. Indeed there is a risk to them as the recent spin and extreme scrutiny of some emails from the
Historically, we have had scientists being given a very hard time over other emergent issues. This is not new. Powerful players may not like news that counters their economic interests. The breaking of the news about the dangers of organochlorine pollutants in aquatic systems is one example. Marine noise pollution is another such issue and we are still deep in the debates with this about how far the science can go and how precautionary noise users and conservation managers need to be.
Goldacre, who writes a regular and fascinating column in the Guardian called ‘Bad Science’ where he typically debunks poor use of science, suggests that there is a recognizable repeating of themes in the arguments of the climate change nay-sayers. The same arguments come up again and again. They know the answers to these arguments but they make them anyway and some (who have not heard the arguments) continue to be affected by them.
We deal in lots of issues where science does not provide any simple answers at WDCS. I am not sure that I believe in unbiased science. Scientists are after all only people with view and aspirations like the rest of us (no matter how much some may like to dress this up). However there is an overwhelming and unprecedented weight of scientific support which says climate change is here and human activities, particularly the discharges of carbon dioxide, are the primary cause. The final leg of this situation is that action needs to come fast.
Source: Bad Science
Finally one thing that is nagging at the back of my brain is the issue of whatever agreement the nations reach in
For regular updates from the Climate conference try the BBC's blog by Richard Black.
Many websites are bringing blow-by-blow news from the climate conference in Copenhagen. For example the regular updates by the BBC's respected enviornmental correspondant Richard Black's can be found here
We can only stand back and wait as the clock ticks down on an issue that many believe relates directly to the survival of our own species as well as so many others.
Meanwhile we can see unusual alligencies forming as various actors try to make a positive impact on the negotiations. Perhaps the most dramatic of these is the one common editorial published by 56 newspapers in 45 countries in 20 different languages. This is unprecedented. The article starts likes this:
"Unless we combine to take decisive action, climte change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted."
And it end with these words:
"The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice."
You can find the full article here.
Just before Ebenezer Scrooge is left by the jovial Ghost of Christmas Present, he notices that the spirit had something hidden in the skirts of his festive robe. Perhaps unwisely he asks what it is and the ghost moves his robe to reveal two child-like but nonetheless fiendish figures. He names the girl as ‘Want’ and the boy ‘Ignorance’.
‘Are they yours?’ says Scrooge but the ghost replies ‘They are man’s!’
‘A Christmas Carole’ is Charles Dicken’s fantasy morality tale and Scrooge is given a chance to redeem himself. He becomes a better man and Tiny Tim, the crippled son of his long suffering clerk, Bob Crachit, is also given a reprieve. He will live, thanks to the new generosity of the reformed miser.
'Man', as Dicken’s called us (or humankind as we might prefer now), is at a cross roads. We can let Ignorance and Want continue to guide us (and perhaps ‘Greed’ would be a better modern word for Want), or we can wake-up to the seriousness and stupidity of our current situation and act. The time-line is brief. In fact, the wake-up and the action need to come this very next week and
As the media goes into frenzy over this crucial meeting of the world’s nations, there will be many confusing and conflicting reports of both the issue and the meeting. As I write, the news in the
To be frank I much prefer this argument too. It makes me feel a lot happier. It let’s me hope that all I hold dear, my family and friends, the whales, the dolphins, and much more besides, is going to be fine.
Sadly it is not true. And this story of misuse of evidence may even obscure what will happen in Copehagen.
I have followed the climate change issue for many years. I first wrote about the threat of climate change to cetaceans when we were still dealing in broad theories. However, I felt then that the risk for them (and us) then was too great to continue in our 'kamikaze mission’ to over-exploit the world’s resources, irrationally expand our populations, and pump climate-changing gases into the atmosphere. But I also thought at that time (some twenty years ago) that this was a slow process. I thought it was going to be more a threat to future generations. The news, however, is that things are happening fast; more than swiftly enough to threaten the current human generations as well as those yet to come.
I have no doubt that climate is changing. No doubt that we are to blame and no doubt that this is the most serious threat to all living things. Not everything is perfectly worked out yet, no one is saying this (although predictive powers are improving) and please don’t be confused with descriptions of previous periods of global warming and cooling. That’s all true, but what we are now facing is unprecedented. (This is rather like the argument that species have always gone extinct in the past and it is a perfectly natural process; also true but again the current rate of extinctions is outside any natural range and it too is human-driven.)
Dickens was a kind man. He gave the eponymous miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, a second chance and, in this fine fiction, the old man understood and acted. We are in that same position but this is no fiction. Some suggest we need to stabilize climate gases by 2015 – only five years away - and this will clearly require a major re-think in the way that we all live. The emissions of climate changing gases have to be reduced not just by a few percent, they have to be radically curtailed and this is going to cause real pain in the developed nations.
The signs for the Copehagen meeting are not good. It seems unlikely that the major polluters will agree to something that significantly handicaps their economies. However the
WDCS will not be at the meeting in
Mark Simmonds, WDCS International Director of Science
Climate change denial is back on the Australian policy agenda again - what would whales and polar bears think?
What an amazing week it has been in Australian politics. Poised as we were for pre-Copenhagen Emissions Trading legislation to be passed, a leadership spill in the opposition Liberal Party (centre-right) and their subsequent radical and swift retreat from climate change policy caused the second defeat of the legislation in the Senate, and a trigger for the Government to call a double dissolution election. Mere hours ago, the Government announced that it will bring the legislation back for a third attempt in February, but this will be after the Copenhagen meeting.
Continue reading "Climate change denial is back on the Australian policy agenda again - what would whales and polar bears think?"
Save the whale, save the planet. It seems that whales might be helping to slow down climate change. Science News reports that 'Sperm whales in the Southern Ocean deserve credit for their fine work pumping iron for climate change.
'Of course the whales breathe, but earlier calculations overlooked the potential for whales to offset their emissions by introducing extra iron into the upper zone of water, Lavery said October 13 at the Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Quebec City, Canada. The extra iron that whales bring up from their deep feeding encourages plankton growth. That growth traps carbon, much as human-run iron-enrichment experiments in the ocean might, Lavery and her colleagues contend.
According to the team’s calculations, sperm whales in the Southern Ocean should rank as carbon neutral at least. The animals may even be capturing a net 5 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere per year, Lavery says.'
So every time the whalers kill a whale they may well be contributing to climate change.
I hope Sweden, who appears to be abusing its position as President of the EU at the moment to help force through Denmark's demands to kill more whales in Greenland, takes note and steps back from its crusade to have more whales die.
It would seem that Sweden is whale enemy no 1 at the moment.