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Politics and Climate Change

I like to think climate change is settled – we have scientific consensus, we know it’s happening, we generally understand the human actions that have accelerated climate change since the dawn of the industrial era. Many of us are feeling energy about reducing our carbon footprint and our overall planetary impact and concern that it’s too late for mitigation, time for adaptation. I personally have been involved with projects like Austin350, Worldchanging, and Powersmack, and I’ve blogged about global warming at Change.org. I’ve been thinking and writing about global warming since Bruce Sterling made me aware of it in the late 1990s. I worked with him on the Viridian Design Movement and wrote an article on climate change for the issue of Whole Earth Magazine he edited. In researching the article, “Being Green in 2001,” I learned that scientists were concerned that their commitment to scientific method – to hypotheses rather than certainties – was misinterpreted as uncertainty about the anthropogenic drivers of climate change. Since then broad scientific consensus has developed, especially via the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC.

I was surprised, then, to have a conversation recently with an intelligent, articulate local businessman who told me that this scientific consensus doesn’t exist, and while he could acknowledge that the climate is changing, it’s a natural cycle associated with solar activity. He’s sent me various charts and links. He’s just forwarded an email that mentions Ian Plimer and his book Heaven and Earth, Bjorn Lomborg, and Kimberley Strassel’s Wall Street Journal op ed piece, “The Climate Change Climate Change,” which says that “the number of skeptics is swelling everywhere.” Among other things, she mentions a list that Senator Jim Inhofe has assembled of scientists who supposedly deny that human action is associated with global warming, and says that the earth’s temperature “has flatlined since 2001.” (Has it?) If you read the comments on the op-ed piece, you see that the question of human action and climate change has been politicized – challenged by the right as a left-wing scam. This is really unfortunate – the science is lost in a fog of political wrangling.

Comments

  1. Where does this nonsense about “scientific consensus” come from? Tens of thousands off scientists have openly spoken against the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change, including many involved with the IPCC. Those of us studying the actual data publicly available, can find no evidence to support the hypothesis. Climate is changing exactly as we would expect based on long term (4000 years plus) history.

  2. Wayne Delbeke says:

    “the science is lost in a fog of political wrangling.”

    You need to read the IPCC mandate. The IPCC reports are not about science. They are political and based on the assumption that the cause of “Global Warming” is due to man’s activitiy on the earth. This is the starting point of all IPCC reports. They are therefore, necessarily biased and unreliable from a science perspective since they start from possibly false premise and build models to fit a preconceived result. The result therefore, should surprise no one. But is is NOT science.

  3. Special K (NJ) says:

    Some of the many manifestations of “climate change” paranoia
    By Special K
    Disassociated Press
    July 20, 2009, 2:09 PM EDT

    Some folks want to tackle climate change regionally,
    Others allude to state-level organization for gaining climate control
    Even though according to the NY Times piece (No. 4) below
    Such narrowly focused, essentially local efforts are likely to be futile, on the whole.

    1. Canadians want to tackle climate change regionally
    MiamiHerald.com – Miami,FL,USA
    By ROCKY BARKER BOISE, Idaho — The debate over climate change is very
    different north of the border especially among conservatives. …(emphasis added).

    2. Climate change forecast: warmer, wetter in Pa. – York Dispatch
    Jul 16, 2009 … STATE COLLEGE — Warmer temperatures and more rain are forecast for Pennsylvania over the next century
    in a climate change study from Penn …yorkdispatch.inyork.com/yd/pennsylvania/ci_12850198 – Cached – Similar –

    3. Organization formed to combat global warming
    Chicago Tribune – United States
    Jim Doyle says the Wisconsin Climate Change Action Initiative will bring together leaders in business, government, advocacy organization and researchers to …

    4. Trade and Climate
    New York Times – United States
    The main reason trade and climate change are linked is that the damage inflicted by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases IS NOT MAINLY LOCAL or .. (emphasis added).

    While Sec. Clinton focuses on India
    In an effort, it would seem, to arrange
    Some basis for cooperation
    In an effort to prevent (??), slow (??), and.or control (??)climate change.

    5. Clinton upbeat on climate change talks with India | Financial 24
    By economy
    By Arshad Mohammed GURGAON, India, July 19 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sounded optimistic on Sunday that the United States and India can bridge their differences on reducing greenhouse gases . However, a senior Indian …

    Financial 24 | Financial News

    6. India Will Resist Pressure From US on Carbon Emissions Caps
    Bloomberg – USA
    Clinton is on a state visit to India meant to showcase trade and security ties and seek common ground on climate change and arms control. …

    7 . INDIA NEWS
    JULY 20, 2009
    India Rejects U.S. Proposal of Carbon Limits
    Clinton Expresses Hope for Common Ground on Climate Change Despite Disagreement on Capping Greenhouse Gases
    “There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have among the LOWEST EMISSIONS PER CAPITA, face to actually reduce emissions,”
    Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told Mrs. Clinton and her delegation. (emphasis added).
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124789530843561651.html#mod=todays_us_page_one

    Canny Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh!
    He knows full well that his nation
    Outnumbers the U.S, by almost a factor of FOUR
    (1,156,697,766 to 307,212,123) in total population.

    Given so many warm bodies and the corresponding emanations
    That particular country is well on the way
    To producing more greenhouse gases in an hour
    Than the U.S. could produce in a day.

    Add to India’s total, that of China (2009 est., 1,338,612,968)
    And it would seem reasonable to say
    That their total, combined gaseous emanations (of the greenhouse variety alone)
    Is likely to exceed that for the entire U.S.A.

    8. Carbon emissions trading system ‘seriously flawed’ guardian.co.uk – UK
    “At a time when other countries are looking to set up their own trading schemes and the world is set to debate a global deal on how to tackle
    climate change …

    If the “world” can’t reach a global deal
    On how to tackle danger clearly at hand
    (E.g., Islamo-fascism, N. Korea, Taliban and Iran)
    Tackling climate change clearly can’t be collaboratively planned.

    However, as suggested by CNN International’s Dean Irvine, below
    The theory that greenhouse produced gases affect climate change
    May need to be re-examined in light of the possibility that computer software (sic) is responsible–
    Or possibly some other still unidentified factor equally strange.

    9. Can computer software account for climate change? CNN International – USA
    By Dean Irvine (CNN) — Microsoft had trouble solving the problems with its Vista operating system, so what are its chances of fixing climate change?

    But the search for causation should be accelerated
    To prevent climate change from destabilizing Iraq
    (And raising the specter of Joe Biden again unannounced
    Deciding that he plans, there, to go back).

    10, James Denselow: Climate Change and Iraq
    By James Denselow
    Iraq’s increasing environmental problems may destabilise the fragile security gains of the last two years. At the start of the month, the US vice-president Joe Biden visited Iraq unannounced to consolidate his position as Obama’s …

    What Joe hoped to consolidate on that visit
    We hope was not his plan announced a few years ago
    To see Iraq divided as Caesar saw Gaul (in tres partes divisa)
    That to revisit up till now he’s been slow.

    But, thinking positively, if Joe speaks again in Iraq
    As he does here in the U.S. of A.
    To see and hear this (somewhat officious) comedian in person
    Any Iraqi would be willing, perhaps a premium, to pay.

    But it’s something of a digression, albeit only slight,
    From the overall climate change hysteria theme
    To consider the question of how climate change destablises security gains in Iraq–
    Or so, to the analytical observer, it would seem.

    11. Climate change: A crisis of credibility
    Examiner.com – USA
    The world’s leaders will gather in Copenhagen this December to discuss climate change and unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be sending a team to …

    Indeed, that appears to be the case…
    If any reader can make sense of this illustrative sample of “climate change” reporting
    This reporter hopes s/he’ll convey it to him,
    (But the chance that there’s any underlying, credible basis therefor
    He now believes to be exceedingly slim).

  4. The nonsense about scientific consensus comes (surprise) from scientists. Suggest you take time to read this article in Wikipedia and the supporting documents: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_consensus

    “The majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is primarily caused by human activities such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation. The conclusion that global warming is mainly caused by human activity and will continue if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced has been endorsed by more than 75 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society, the International Union for Quaternary Research, and the Joint Science Academies of the major industrialized and developing nations explicitly use the word “consensus” when referring to this conclusion.”

  5. Climate Change made the typhoons in the south pacific very destructive. Typhoon Ketsana made a lot of mess in Philippines and Vietnam

  6. Global Warming and Climate Change is the biggest environmental issue that we face these days. the long term effects of these environmental changes to a nations economy is quite damaging. there would be a shortage in food supply as well as on water supply too.

  7. Evelyn Reed says:

    Climate Change is really scary, now we have super typhoons and a lot of flooding going on some countries..,*-

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