Today there will be an entirely predictable and pointless media circus. Well, there will be several – every day brings new clowns, jugglers and high-wire acts.
Today though, the fifth assessment report of the United Nations’ “IPCC” climate body will be promoted, attacked, defended, re-attacked blah de blah de blah.
“Glaciers” this, “sea level rise” that. “Droughts” here, “not happening” there. Natural cycles, paused, El-Nino. Yawn.
Six years ago I was at the Royal Society event in London where over two days the authors of the last report (AR4) laid out their work. Two things I remember very clearly – they massively underestimated the speed and scale of change in the Arctic. And a very prominent scientist (Susan Solomon) kept replying to the question “how long have we got?” with the very cryptic and terrifying phrase “It’s later than you think.”
Amid all the media scrum, remember this – as Noam Chomsky points out, there are actually three positions on climate. There’s a few very loud and well-funded denialists “it’s not happening”. There’s the formal process (IPCC) and then there is a significant body of scientists who think that things are WORSE than the IPCC paints.
Finally – change doesn’t come from documents. If it did, Manchester’s future would be far more certain, given the local climateriat’s love of refreshes and reboots, half-arsed implementation plans that never get, um, implemented.
Change comes from people getting together and creating sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.
For more on Chomsky, see this video
Yeah, it’s very unfortunate that the over-confident and (as it turns out) mistaken statements in the previous report are going to give a lot of people the pretext they want for dismissing the whole thing. Still, on the plus side: things not as bad as the worst predictions, right? In itself that’s good news.
On your last para: yes and no. What’s struck me over recent years is that targets without mechanisms (as per Europe) and mechanisms without targets (as per USA) are equally ineffectual. Grassroots activity has never achieved, and could never achieve, anything as comprehensive as this; we do need plans, targets etc, but we need them to be managed and implemented – not just put in a drawer and forgotten about.
PS Meant to say grassroots activity *by itself* cannot achieve this.
One of the things, I have tried to get through to Manchester City Council, is the fact that Global Warming will not necessary mean we will have tropical weather. This is what the council thinks will happen, and this is why they are happy to chop down native trees and plant tropical plants in replacement, such as the hundreds of Magnolias now planted. I pointed out, sometime ago, climatologists predict Britain becoming a lot wetter and colder, a mini ice-age. And this is a prediction from the IPCC, which our media are now trying to ridicule: “Climate change will make Britain cooler, UN predicts,” declares the Telegraph.
I also was at a presentation by the WWF, in London some years ago, where a Norwegian scientist presented a report, that 2 degrees was the max, when 4 degrees was widely agreed to be the max. She also stated that urgent action was needed then to reduce GHG (green house gases) emissions, this was back in 2006. Nothing has been done to drastically reduce our emissions, if any thing every thing has been done to ensure they rise. And something that will contribute to this is ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing), for unconventional fossil fuels.
As some on mention at the anti-fracking meeting in Eccles last night. The Government states that ‘fracking’ will provide us with a transitional energy source, a transition to what? In 20 – 30 years time, when it runs out, we will be back to the start. So, why are we not investing more in renewables and shutting down our fossil fuel plants down?
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What was the upshot of that meeting by the way?