Monday, December 13, 2010

The Climate climate and a big footprint in the sand

Well, it seems that there's to be little change about climate change.  Yet another UN climate meeting goes belly up because peoples' various types of greed over-ride agreement.

Too bad!  If people have to change the way they live, and perhaps especially if rich people have to live less rich, then naturally they'll find reasons to scuttle any agreement that's actually going to do something.  There's enough to be cynical about already, but one can add, perhaps, something about hypocritical UN cynicism that may reinforce why some don't want to go along.

Where was this meeting held?  The delegates humbly treated themselves to Cancun, which is nothing other than a hard-to-reach fancy resort.  This was not a low carbon footprint meeting!  Lots of flying to get there, fancy (air conditioned?) hotel, fancy food at least much of which had to be transported in from afar.  Lots of delegates from everywhere spewing out CO2 to get there.

It appears that the result of this costly conference is a vague and largely non-committal, non-enforceable agreement to say something will be done, without being compelled to actually do much.  So the delegates left a footprint, in the sand on the beach as well as the carbon footprint of the main emissions that seem to have come from the meeting: hot air.

Too bad.  We would view this as a triumph of the problems of uncertainty in science.  If science is honest, and acknowledges weaknesses in data and uncertainty, as climate scientists have done, then the core things that do seem certain can be washed away by the blow of dissembling by those whose lives or wealth might have to be curtailed if the science were recognized.  The desire of scientists for their message to be heard has led to some overstatements, but these have been trivial compared to the core of solid evidence. So when science comes up against politics, politics seems to have the upper footprint.

Even some of the posturing doubters recognize that climate is, empirically, changing.  They can argue truthfully that it's always changing, but even if they are right that human activity is not responsible (and there's no good reason to think they're right about that), it is still true that if we try to ameliorate the problem, lots of dislocation and who knows what other untoward events or cataclysms could be avoided by modifying how we as a species live.

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