Friday, May 4, 2007

The World Has Just 8 Yrs To Fight Global Warming

- Nitin Sethi
The world cannot remain a fossil fool anymore, oblivious of the environmental destruction wrought as it guzzles fuels like coal and oil.
The world has just eight years to act and bring down the concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere if the rising global temperatures are be contained between 2-2.4 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era, a hard-hitting report of the UN’s apex body on climate change released on Friday said.
All countries, including India, will have to take drastic steps to shift from fossil fuels like coal and oil, which emit global warming gases upon burning, in order to avert a global crisis, the report said with a firmness and certainty that the experts of more than 100 countries have never asserted before.
It has warned that any delay in action would lead to the temperatures rising alarmingly.
Nailing all quibbles on climate change from sceptics’ chambers, the report warned that emissions of heat-trapping gases had increased alarmingly by 70 per cent between 1970-2004, with levels of carbon dioxide increasing by 80 per cent over the same period.
In an ominous prediction, it noted that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels along current lines, then the dangerous emissions would rise by 90 per cent by 2030.
The recommendations mark repudiation of arguments of both developing and developed countries.
Countering the argument of the developing countries, like India and China, that reducing emissions would hit their economies, the report says that at worst, the global GDP would be blunted by about 3 per cent by 2030 if it undertakes these emission cuts.
It, however, admits that some countries will bear the brunt more than others.
On the other hand, developed countries have also been bluntly told that they would have to change their lifestyles and alter consumption patterns. These countries, with a mere 20 per cent of the world’s population, account for 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The message for them is that mere adoption of technologies won’t do.
Global Warming or Global Cooling?
Almost as soon as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming came into effect on February 15, Kashmir suffered the highest snowfall in three decades with over 150 killed, and Mumbai recorded the lowest temperature in 40 years. Had temperatures been the highest for decades, newspapers would have declared this was proof of global warming. But whenever temperatures drop, the press keeps quiet.
Things were different in 1940-70, when there was global cooling. Every cold winter then was hailed as proof of a coming new Ice Age. But the moment cooling was replaced by warming, a new disaster in the opposite direction was proclaimed.
A recent Washington Post article gave this scientist's quote from 1972. "We simply cannot afford to gamble. We cannot risk inaction. The scientists who disagree are acting irresponsibly. The indications that our climate can soon change for the worse are too strong to be reasonably ignored." The warning was not about global warming (which was not happening): it was about global cooling!
In the media, disaster is news, and its absence is not. This principle has been exploited so skillfully by ecological scare-mongers that it is now regarded as politically incorrect, even unscientific, to denounce global warming hysteria as unproven speculation.
Meteorologists are a standing joke for getting predictions wrong even a few days ahead. The same jokers are being taken seriously when they use computer models to predict the weather 100 years hence.
The models have not been tested for reliability over 100 years, or even 20 years. Different models yield variations in warming of 400%, which means they are statistically meaningless.
Wassily Leontief, Nobel prize winner for modeling, said this about the limits of models. "We move from more or less plausible but really arbitrary assumptions, to elegantly demonstrated but irrelevant conclusions." Exactly. Assume continued warming as in the last three decades, and you get a warming disaster. Assume more episodes of global cooling, and you get a cooling disaster.
In his latest best seller State of Fear, Michael Crichton does a devastating expose of the way ecological groups have tweaked data and facts to create mass hysteria. He points out that we know astonishingly little about the environment. All sides make exaggerated claims.
We know that atmospheric carbon is increasing. We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that started in 1850 at the end of what is called the Little Ice Age. It is scientifically impossible to prove whether the subsequent warming is natural or man-made.
Greens say, rightly, that the best scientific assessment today is that global warming is occurring. Yet never in history have scientists accurately predicted what will happen 100 years later. A century ago no scientists predicted the internet, microwave ovens, TV, nuclear explosions or antibiotics. It is impossible, even stupid, to predict the distant future.
That scientific truth is rarely mentioned. Why? Because the global warming movement has now become a multi-billion dollar enterprise with thousands of jobs and millions in funding for NGOs and think-tanks, top jobs and prizes for scientists, and huge media coverage for predictions of disaster.
The vested interests in the global warming theory are now as strong, rich and politically influential as the biggest multinationals. It is no co-incidence, says Crichton, that so many scientists sceptical of global warming are retired professors: they have no need to chase research grants and chairs.
I have long been an agnostic on global warming: the evidence is ambiguous. But I almost became a convert when Greenpeace publicised photos showing the disastrously rapid retreat of the Upsala Glacier in Argentina. How disastrous, I thought, if this was the coming fate of all glaciers.
Then last Christmas, I went on vacation to Lake Argentina. The Upsala glacier and six other glaciers descend from the South Andean icefield into the lake. I was astounded to discover that while the Upsala glacier had retreated rapidly, the other glaciers showed little movement, and one had advanced across the lake into the Magellan peninsula. If in the same area some glaciers advance and others retreat, the cause is clearly not global warming but local micro-conditions.
Yet the Greenpeace photos gave the impression that glaciers in general were in rapid retreat. It was a con job, a dishonest effort to mislead. From the same icefield, another major glacier spilling into Chile has grown 60% in volume.
Greenpeace and other ecological groups have well-intentioned people with high ideals. But as crusaders they want to win by any means, honest or not. I do not like being taken for a ride, by idealists or anyone else.
We need impartial research, funded neither by MNCs, governmental groups or NGOs with private agendas. And the media needs to stop highlighting disaster scares and ignoring exposes of the scares.

1 comment:

Trond Lovdal said...

This is really old news, this is what many scientists and concerned environmentalists have been saying for ages. The only news really is that the UN finally has realized it. It took them long enough. But now that the UN is on board maybe the world can see some real action. The question is whether it isn't too little too late anyway. The domino effect is already rippling through the environment and it takes a lot to teach an old dog new tricks. Too many people are living their comfortable lives without any intention whatsoever to change, and those in the poorer nations, who as of yet is not there in terms of living standards are aspiring to consume like most in the devloped world, as if there is no tomorrow. I wonder what it takes to wake up these sleep-walkers.
Trond Lovdal (