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Global Climate Change

February 5th, 2007

It is a truism to say this has become a major issue! It is, however, an extraordinary feature of the modern world that, despite a huge and increasing scientific literature leading increasingly to the conclusion that the world’s climate is warming and becoming more unstable and that it is our activities which have contributed to this, especially since the beginning of the industrial “revolution” and its reliance on fossil fuels, people are still prepared to deny these conclusions.

My contribution was an attack on the ridiculous views advanced in December 2004 by free trade advocate, climate change sceptic and consultant to the developing world Alan Oxley.

“Global warming is happening right now” On Line Opinion Monday, January 31, 2005

“December 2004 saw the partial collapse of support for the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol at the Buenos Aires Conference of the Parties. Only limited and informal talks were agreed on for the future. As environmental groups objected to the “obstructionism” of the US attempts to kill off the Protocol altogether, Alan Oxley, well known Free Trade advocate and opponent of the Protocol gleefully reported, “The United States, China, India and the rest of the developing countries have taken over the UN climate process and sidelined the Kyoto Protocol”. More, “… the Howard government is now in the international mainstream of climate change policy”. And, “The science used to justify the Treaty has been steadily unwinding”.

“In fact, European countries are enlarging their carbon trading, science reveals increasing evidence of warming, and Britain’s Tony Blair is committed to progressing solutions to warming described as “in the long term, the single most important issue facing the global community” and to involving the US in finding solutions. Saudi Arabia will endorse the Protocol even though it will lose billions of dollars as a result of emission reductions by industrialised countries. Meanwhile, the US Administration has removed or watered down protection for the environment, promoted high energy use and ignored inefficiencies. Australia is simply following along after the US wherever it goes…”

It is absolutely imperative that governments, business, the scientific community and we, as ordinary people, do everything we can to reverse the trends. We are told that while it is unlikely that action now will have have much effect in the next few decades, it may alleviate the situation later. It is not reponsible for people to say, as the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, recently appointed Minister for Environment and Water, did, that there is little Australia can do but adapt to it.

The “Stern Report” for the British Government made important points about pricing carbon emissions: the reaction of some was to protest that any imposition of prices would lead to economic decline, job losses and more. This is despite many studies showing that moves to alternative and renewable energy sources and more efficiencies in energy use would be economically positive.

The latest report by the International Panel on Climate Change “The Physical Science Basis: a Summary for Policymakers”, was released February 2, 2007 in Paris and adopted in a line-by line review by the governments of 113 countries, including the United States. The Report is here. It is worth going to the Report and examining the graphs of increase in concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.

Too many groups in the community which have attained influential views are too reluctant to face the consequences of inadequate action now. How will their reluctance be viewed by our chidren and grandchildren, should they survive? And too many people are not listening closely enough and are too prepared to make their own broad claims, unsubstantiated by the evidence, about the views and positions adopted by others, for instance on issues such as nuclear energy. Calling for debate about nuclear energy does not constitute endorsement of nuclear energy.

Too much argument centres around exaggerated claims about negative economic impacts of taking remedial action, searches for single solutions to the phasing our of coal and oil and the assertion that little effect will flow from actions of smaller countries like Australia until large devleoping nations like China and India take action. There is insufficient attention to the savings to be made by increasing efficiency in the heating and cooling of buildings of all kinds, the gains from more efficient public transport, especially off-road transport.
An example of on going denial is yet another item on how the world is not warming on the site of Jennifer Marohassy which has links to the Fraser Institute in Canada. You may care to read the comments on the post as well!

Undoubtedly there will be further posts on this issue.

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