Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A rant about today's climate conference

Ok, just need to vent about world events for a second here.

There's currently a climate change conference on in Thailand, and I was listening to a BBC report about what's going on there. According to the report, the scientific community has drawn up a strongly worded statement warning of "dire consequences" if action is not taken immediately to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Super. Now, of course, you'd expect some countries to object to this, such as those who sell oil or whose economies are heavily dependent on it. Saudia Arabia has objectedto the wording and is trying to get it watered down on the basis that "environmental concerns may reduce consumption of oil in the future".

Really? Wow. Thought getting that said was the entire point of the conference. I understand of course that vested interests will want to skew the scientific results in whatever way serves their needs. But this goes beyond emphasizing the scientists who say things that serve your interests. Speaking of who's interested in this issue, fun fact: China will overtake the US as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter later this year, several years ahead of schedule. Currently the US emits 21% of the world total, so China must be around that as well. Basically Saudi Arabia, the US and China (the news story didn't mention anyone else, but if Saudia Arabia speaks for OPEC that represents about 40% of both oil production and consumption) have collectively said "we don't want the scientists to say this, because it's not in our interests to listen." Not "We don't want this to be worded so strongly because the debate about this issue has not been resolved" which is what they were all saying last year, when the previous climate change report was revised to say that the science was 90% certain, instead of the 99% many countries were pushing for.

Now, if people who are running countries (let's assume for a second that this requires them to be reasonably intelligent) can use this type of logic, I've been gypped. Apparently, instead of working hard enough to get through university in a reasonable length of time, I could have just said "I think I'll chill out here and party for a few years, rather than starting work". And then when the parents said "there will be serious consequences for that", I could have simply responded by saying "it's not in my interest for you to state things so bluntly that I feel pressured to take some action, so I suggest you reconsider your position, and revise what you're saying so it's less definitive". Man, it would have been a fun few years...

The fact that this kind of behaviour is going on on a worldwide scale is worrying. Since even the poeple who have a direct interest in disputing the science of global warming have given up doing so and are now resorting to more direct pressure, the debate really is over, and it's time to grow up and get to work.

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