|Global warming: a confederacy of dunces|
|Written by Thomas Fuller, SF Environmental Policy Examiner|
|Thursday, October 08 2009 09:26|
I highly recommend Roger Pielke Jr.'s post of his Finnish colleagues and climate scientist Atte Horhola's scathing appraisal of efforts to combat global warming, published with Horhola's partner Eija Riite Korhola, a member of the European Parliament. After a week of focussing on the validity of proxy reconstructions of temperature and data handling procedures, it's past time to step back and take a wider look.
The short version? Hordes of well-intentioned people in governments and NGO's have made a series of disastrous decisions that have not addressed global warming, but have harmed the environment, the move towards clean energy and the lives of the poor all over the world. Here in California we have our own pet example, the opposition to a solar plant based on the possible migration patterns of a threatened rodent.
But Korhola has a wider range of targets: "Environmental organizations are generally considered experts in preventing climate change although many of their solutions have proved downright destructive.
..."Politicians, energy producers, and industries can well be criticized of narrow-mindedness in their views. However, environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of the Earth, and the Finnish
One example is the fact that these organizations opposed the inclusion of carbon dioxide sinks, such as tropical forests, and reforestation to the Kyoto Protocol as a form of carbon offset. They justify their opposition by the fact that, for them, decreasing emissions is the primary target. It was only in the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year that controlling deforestation and increasing forest restoration were accepted as means of controlling climate change, mainly thanks to developing countries."
..."For a long time, these organizations also opposed all measures aimed at adapting to climate change, as they saw climate change, as something that should be stopped, not adapted to. Similar dogmatism is common in the views of environmental groups; they are against using waste as a source of energy as they believe it will deter preventing the generation of waste. They also oppose developing nuclear fission and fusion energy, as they are afraid it will increase energy consumption and slow down the development of renewable forms of energy.
Environmental organizations supported the increased use of field energy and bio fuels for a long time, as can be seen in their vision from 2006: “Climate target 2050: paths to low-emission society”. However, the side effect of the bio fuel boom it created was gloomy, and, once again, the victims were the poorest countries: world market prices of many basic foods have doubled or even tripled during the last three years – mainly due to increased demand of bio fuels."
Many of these arguments are echoed in the almost eponymous book published by The Breakthrough Institute, which basically makes the point that the environment is too important to be left to the environmentalists. It's time to take a strategic look at global warming with the same type of vision.
The advocates of policy to address global warming are not winners. From Al Gore on down, the symbols are off key. The IPCC is perhaps the least effective organisation possible at producing policy recommendations that have a chance at being implemented (in fact, they claim not to recommend policy, although they often do)--which is why governments around the world are using targeted totals for CO2 emissions (which they don't know how to achieve) instead of something like, oh, an energy policy. The scientists who are most passionate about global warming's danger are incapable of communicating any sense of urgency, and seem to have forgotten due diligence in the science they are conducting.
Here in America, Barack Obama was elected with a very good energy policy to put before us, which was immediately placed on the back burner due to pressure from environmentalists for an unwieldy, unwise and perhaps unpassable cap and trade monstrosity. While spending billions on climate research (most of which went on general circulation models), we forgot to check the quality of the temperature measurements we were collecting, and we forgot to get quality data back from our investment in East Anglia University's analysis of temperature data. They have lost the records of adjustments they have made, and we are left literally wondering if we know what's happened to temperatures.
The activist response has been to up the ante with ever fiercer claims of catastrophe, up to the point where they have more or less jumped the shark. (Polar bears might be cute when young, but they've survived greater climate changes than any anticipated here.) They speak of increasing frequency and strength of tropical storms--but frequency hasn't changed and strength has decreased. They make impossible claims of Greenland melting, forgetting that most of the ice there lies within a basin and isn't going anywhere for 3,000 years. They say that temperatures will rise 7 to 9 degrees Celsius this century, when the IPCC reviewed science says between 1.5 and 4. Activists say flooding will reach 20 feet this century, when it won't even be 2--just a bit more than last century, and much less than most centuries since the end of the Ice Age.
It's been a sorry, sorry performance by all concerned. The father and son combination of Roger Pielkes favor a resource-based approach to global warming, one that looks at the bottlenecks to human health and prosperity, and concentrating our fight against those bottlenecks--water, food, energy, health and ecosystem function. If we address global warming's impacts on these bottlenecks, we will be doing something useful. Which would be a big change from efforts over the past 20 years.