Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hotting up

From sceptic to proselytiser is a well-trodden path, but this one is a very inconvenient conversion for the dwindling band of climate change deniers.
Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.
Richard Muller here publicising his views in the New York Times.  He is still pugnacious about over what he sees as alarmist claims (including the one about Himalayan glaciers that was withdrawn as an error a few years ago), but gets to the central problem in his conclusion.
I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes. Then comes the difficult part: agreeing across the political and diplomatic spectrum about what can and should be done.
Of course any scientific debate was settled a very long time before his study was undertaken, so what he is really trying to say is that it is time for him to join the party - a little late maybe, but he has turned up. However, if he thinks that this will stop denialist campaigns then he is mistaken. The reason why is in his last sentence. 

Climate change 'skepticism' was never a scientific movement, it was always a political one. Its aim was not to promote scientific enquiry, it was to at least delay, or preferably stop, any corrective measures that could affect the economic interests of its major corporate funders. It attempted to do this through obfuscation. Look at Fox News or the Republican Party in the USA today and you will see that it has had some success. And it will keep up the pressure for as long as it can.

So what will the consequences be? On a less serious level at least Minda Berbeco can offer some consolation. She points out that higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will benefit the growth of cannabis.
In a carbon-rich world 100 years from now, when our environment is over-run with poison ivy and star thistle; where rising sea levels will displace millions of people causing natural disaster refugees; where warmer temperatures will increase epidemic risks and famines globally; I think we’ll be very glad that the cannabis plant is doing so well.  We’ll probably need it.
Maybe this is what the Exxon corporations of this world need to do. Forget oil, go into dope. There's money to be made.

Thanks to Stephen for the links

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