Friday, March 13, 2009

Curious Times

The old chinese curse about living in interesting times was never more apt than today.

A tipping point appear to have been passed, and things on the political stage are changing faster than a melting polar icecap.*

Two years ago, in an atmosphere of suppression and denial, the UN ICPP released its assessment of the world environment, suggesting that climate change would cause an average increase of about 2-3 degrees by the end of this century.

A world that is three degrees warmer can expect to see a 75% reduction in forest cover. Come to the Australian high country and see it happening: now!

A world that is three degrees warmer can expect to experience sea level rises of well over a meter, displacing hundred of millions of coastal dwelling people. Look at migration in history, and you will see war and rumours of war.

This week, a conference in Copenhagen was told that the ICPP report was 'woefully out of date'.

This is not news. It was known or suspected that the report had been watered down to suit the prevailing taste two years ago.

What is news is that scientists at the conference were able to present their findings without fear or favour. They did so, and their news was received with great gravity by the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen:
"Business as usual is dead - green growth is the answer to both our climate and economic problems.

"I hope the whole world will join us and set a two degree goal as an ambition of a climate deal in Copenhagen,"
Note that the goal is no longer to get us back where we were. This is now considered impossible with our current technology and capacity to act.

It has been mentioned elsewhere that US President Obama's inauguration speech contained an interesting turn of phrase that suggested a true committment to the scientific method. It is to be hoped that this is true, and allows us to put an upbeat spin on that curse, because we are in for some very curious times ahead, and will need every gram of objective assessment and ability to see us through it.

The party's over, folks! Time to 'beat the t-two'!
* I sincerely hope so! If we can't move faster than this, we are history.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home