Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Climate alarmism hits a brick wall

Right wingers complain about the "liberal" media. They should be happy that the National Post's ownership of the Financial Post has steered that august publication down the proper conservative shipping lane. Here we have a headline with the unabashedly slanted "climate alarmism". Not satisfied with this the first sentence drives the rhetorical hot air home with "climate hysteria". The article is certainly right about Australia though. I guess Rudd is doing a variation on the Canadian Liberal Party, sign on to Kyoto but do nothing.
There is no mention of the unfairness of putting a great deal of pressure on developing countries to clean up their act when for years the developed countries did nothing and enjoyed the fruits of industrialisation and there is no mention either of the relative emissions per capita in developed versus developing nations. This is almost pure rhetoric and yet the author is the editor of a scientific policy network! I thought even the National Post would have a bit more savvy than to publish such a crock. I should add a bit about Benny Preiser from Wikipedia

Peiser examined the essay by Naomi Oreskes published in the science and society section of Science which reported the lack of dissenting opinions in a sample of 928 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles on global warming. The articles in Oreskes's survey were drawn from the ISI database using the search terms "global climate change," though she originally claimed to have used the broader terms "climate change."

He did a similar survey with different results. His letters[4] were rejected by the editors of Science. A crucial subset of his survey's results was posted and analyzed[5] by blogger Tim Lambert, and it was discovered that Peiser had used different search terms and parameters, such as his inclusion of articles which had not been peer reviewed, whereas Oreskes's article was explicitly about peer reviewed scientific articles. Consequently Peiser has different results, however his demarcation of 35 abstracts as contesting the consensus position has been challenged by most readers of the abstracts, as only one (non peer reviewed ) abstract clearly contradicts the consensus position. Consequently Dr. Peiser later conceded[6] that his survey contained some errors, though he maintains that the substance of his criticism of Oreskes's essay remains valid.

Peiser has recently conceded in a letter to the Australian Media Watch that he no longer maintains one of his criticisms, and that he no longer doubts that "an overwhelming majority of climatologists is agreed that the current warming period is mostly due to human impact. However, this majority consensus is far from unanimous."[7]

While Peiser is no doubt right that the prevailing view is far from unaminous it is virtual orthodoxy so that it is a bit strange to call it alarmism and hysteria without giving even any evidence against it in his article. As the exercerpt shows his research methods in the case mentioned do not create much confidence.
Writing such as this has a platform not because it rightly tackles a hidebound reactionary scientific establishment but because it supports a reactionary political agenda.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Climate alarmism hits a brick wall
Benny Peiser, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The success of the major Anglosphere nations at last week's United Nations climate conference in Bali marks the beginning of the end of the age of climate hysteria. It also symbolizes a significant shift of political leadership in international climate diplomacy from the once-dominating European continent to North America and its Western allies.

This power shift has perhaps never been more transparent and dramatic than in Bali, when Australia's Labour government, under the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, announced a complete U-turn on the thorny issue of mandatory carbon dioxide emissions targets. Only days after Australia's delegation had backed Europe's demand for a 25% to 40% cut in emission by 2020, Mr. Rudd declared (his signature under the Kyoto Protocol wasn't even dry) that his government would not support such targets after all.

Indeed, Australia's position hardened further when Trade Minister Simon Crean announced that developing countries like China and India would have to accept tough binding emissions targets before Australia would ever agree to any post-Kyoto agreement beyond 2012.

Similar stipulations were made by Canada and Japan. Surprisingly, even the British government appeared to deviate from the European Union position when Britain's Trade and Development Minister, Gareth Thomas, told the BBC that developing countries would also be required to accept targets for CO2 emissions.

Rather than being isolated, the decision by the United States and Canada to take the lead in international energy and climate diplomacy appears to have galvanized key allies, who are gradually rallying around a much tougher stance vis-a-vis China and India.

In Bali, the Anglosphere nations have in effect drawn a red line in the sand: Unless developing countries agree to mandatory emissions cuts themselves, much of the Western world will henceforth reject any unilateral burden imposed by future climate deals.

As a consequence, the so-called Bali road map adopted last Saturday has shifted the pressure further on to developing nations to share responsibility for CO2 emissions, a move that is widely regarded as a significant departure from the Kyoto Protocol.

For the first time, there are now firm demands for developing nations to tackle CO2 emissions by taking "actions in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable" way. There can be little doubt that the words adopted in Bali herald increasing pressure on China and India to accept mandatory emissions targets.

Australia's public endorsement of this line of attack attests to the fact that the West's climate strategy no longer depends on party politics. Nobody has made this new reality more obvious in recent days than Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry. Speaking to reporters at the Bali meeting, he notified the international community that a rejection by China and other emerging economies to cut their own greenhouse gases would make it almost impossible for any U.S. administration to get a new global climate treaty through the U.S. Senate -- "even under a Democratic president."

Yet, neither China nor India will be able to agree to any emissions cuts in the foreseeable future. While their CO2 emissions are expected to rise rapidly over the next 20 to 30 years, there is simply nothing in the world of alternative energy or clean technology existing today that has the capacity to arrest this upwards trend. Any forceful attempts, on the other hand, to rein in the dramatically rising energy consumption in almost all of Asia would, inescapably, trigger economic turmoil, social disorder and political chaos.

In Bali, more than perhaps ever before, climate alarmism has finally hit the solid brick wall of political reality. It's a reality that won't go away or be changed any time soon. After more than 20 years of green ascendancy on the world stage, green politicians and climate campaigners are for the first time faced with a conundrum that looks as impenetrable as squaring the circle.

Reflecting on this predicament and the results of the Bali conference, Germany's former foreign secretary, my old friend Joschka Fischer, declared that nothing short of divine intervention would be required to reach a post-Kyoto agreement by 2009, in face of insurmountable obstacles.

"Perhaps something will happen in the meantime, something that does not normally happen in politics, namely a small miracle. After all, given past experiences, one must fear that international climate policy won't probably advance without the direct intervention of higher powers."

That Europe's most famous and most eminent green politician is prepared and desperate enough to publicly call for heavenly support is a strong indication that the age of climate alarmism is now being gradually replaced by fatalism. That's what the encounter with a brick wall tends to do to hot-heads. One can only hope that a period of sobering up from green dreams and delusions will provide political leaders with the prerequisite for a realistic, pragmatic and most of all a manageable approach to climate change.

--- - Benny Peiser is the editor of CCNet, an international science-policy network.

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