No, I do not intend to present some other “sweeping” Climategate-like “proofs” that all those climate scientists warning since the 1960’s that human activities influence the global climate have been wrong. Quite the contrary, to date, science tells us clearly that the Earth is warming and that we are those responsible. Moreover, it tells us that it is likely to keep warming unless we do something about it, and if we do not, the consequences may be very unpleasant. So, the title question is entirely hypothetical. Nevertheless, I still find it very interesting because climate science may be wrong. Continue reading
Where is the global warming? After a rather long and hard winter this year, many Europeans ask this question. The media have been spreading the terrible scenarios of a human-made global warming for years. But in Europe and many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, in April there was still a lot of snow outside. Reason enough to become doubtful. Seemingly. Actually, however, the winter of 2013 is perfectly fitting the picture drawn by climate science. To understand why, we have to answer a few preliminary questions first. Continue reading
A man is diagnosed with cancer and the oncologist orders treatment. The patient waits and waits and waits. He is not suicidal but thinks “What does this doctor really know?” Over the next few weeks, he gets a second opinion and then a third opinion…they are all the same: a chemotherapeutic cocktail. Meanwhile, the cancer is spreading. Begrudgingly, the man begins taking the medicine. But pride mixes with fear and he takes just one third of the prescribed dose. What does the oncologist say? If depends on the personality of the oncologist. A hopeful one will urge the patient to follow the full regime. A discouraged one will level with the man “either you follow the full regime or don’t bother taking anything”. The dishonest one says “those side-effects aren’t all that bad…”. [Joseph Henry Vogel, The Economics of the Yasuní Initiative: Climate Change as If Thermodynamics Mattered, p.78]
Last year, it was the 27th of September. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day, however, is the 22nd of August. Even though the methodology of the Global Footprint Network and similar projects is not completely unproblematic, the main message is clear: we are (ab)using the Earth’s resources in a way that is extremely unsustainable.
Today, August 22, is Earth Overshoot Day, marking the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. We are now operating in overdraft. For the rest of the year, we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In last years, there were reasons to hope: Copenhagen, Durban, Rio +20, the election of Barack Obama for president of the United States, China’s seeming calming down in Cancún, progress in the EU… Still, the overall progress was terribly disappointing. We are still massively burning (and even subsidizing) fossil fuels, consumption levels still aren’t dropping in the developed world (while they are steeply rising in its developing parts), our agricultural systems remain, in spite of some progress toward agro-ecology, unsustainable (possibly because of most environmentalists’ sticking to the dogma of “bad biotechnology“)… Shortly, we, i.e. humanity as a whole, still apparently don’t care about our own and our children’s future. We prefer short-sightedness and short-term pleasure over reason and long-term survival. We prefer keeping our eyes closed and denying on what appears inconvenient to us, instead of facing the truth that we have to change. Indeed, the way we live will have to change anyway, as a result of the pressures we put over the Earth system. Wouldn’t it be easier to stop shooting at the Earth on our own, instead of waiting until lifestyle changes will become inevitable?
I have ever opposed genetically modified food – reasons for that can be found here and here (they have evolved a little, but my opposition remained strong). However, recently I had to revise many of my previous arguments. Also I had to realize that many arguments against GM food as used by its adversaries are counterfactual, oversimplifications, misrepresentations of scientific results and the like. Then, I asked myself: you know this pattern, don’t you? At first glance at least, their affinity to climate change denialism is striking. Continue reading
Imagine a gigantic banquet. Hundreds of millions of people come to eat. They eat and drink to their hearts’ content – eating food that is better and more abundant than at the finest tables in ancient Athens or Rome, or even in the palaces of medieval Europe. Then, one day, a man arrives, wearing a white dinner jacket. He says he is holding the bill. Not surprisingly, the diners are in shock. Some begins to deny that this is their bill. Others deny that there even is a bill. Still others deny that they partook of the meal. One diner suggests that the man is not really a waiter, but is only trying to get attention for himself or to raise money for his own projects. Finally, the group concludes that if they simply ignore the waiter, he will go away.
This is where we stand today on the subject of global warming. For the past 150 years, industrial civilization has been dining on the energy stored in fossil fuels, and the bill has come due. Yet, we have sat around the dinner table denying that it is our bill, and doubting the credibility of the man who delivered it. Economists often noted that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” They are right. We have experiened prosperity unmatched in human history. We have feasted to our hearts’ content. But the lunch was not free.
It’s not suprising that many of us are in denial. After all, we didn’t know it was a banquet, and we didn’t know that there would be a bill. Now we do know.
I just found that quote here (it is a Polish blog). It comes from this book about scientific denialism (not only – not even mainly – with regard to climate change). I guess, it is worth being put on one’s “to-read” list.
I normally am rather skeptical about non-climatologists engaging in arguments about whether there is anthropogenic climate change or not (it’s better to rely on expert’s opinion here). However, I just read a powerful and informed response to Bruce Everett’s post about whom he calls “climatistas” – written by an economist, Frank Ackerman, but nevertheless worth reading (in the end, Ackerman’s main field of enquiry is the economics of climate change). Here is an excerpt:
In a recent blog post, Fletcher professor and former ExxonMobil executive Bruce Everett claims to have had hundreds of conversations with advocates of active climate protection over the last ten years. From these conversations he claims that they – an almost entirely unnamed group of “Climatistas” – make ever-changing, unsubstantiated arguments, and cannot answer his objections. [more]
It is almost obvious that the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, with all its meetings, won’t bring much change. The US are considered incapable of action. To hope that the Chinese will take over the leadership is somewhat… naive. Perhaps they will do it rhetorically – but that is not enough. Unfortunately, the Chinese mentality seems to hinder them from engaging in anything that is really global (if there are any Sinologists out there who know better – correct me). In China, they are building up a world leading “green industry”, with all its wind mills, solar power stations and so on. But, unlike many environmentalists hope, it is not the same as wanting to build up a comprehensive framework for fighting the climate change. Do they avoid commitment? Don’t they understand that global warming is a global challenge? Do they just want to have leading role in another area of the global economy (viz., green technology)? I don’t know. But there is something that hinders them from taking over the leadership from the US and the EU. Continue reading
For most people knowing a bit about the global warming discussion the name Bjørn Lomborg should be common. He is a Danish political scientist and writes a lot about (the economics of) climate change. He calls himself a “skeptical environmentalist” (he once was a member of Greenpeace) and is a highly controversial author – while admitting that there is a man-made global warming, he long claimed that mitigation of it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. Instead we should concentrate on adaptation and solving other problems like poverty. Continue reading
For those understanding German, here a very interesting article about people who deny global warming.
The article mentioned above, published in Spiegel, discusses the phenomenon of climate change denialism on the specific example of Fred Singer, one of the most (in)famous denialists. For those who don’t understand German, here a short summary: Continue reading