Thursday, 3 April 2014

You Probably Won’t Read This. It’s About Climate Change

You Probably Won’t Read This. It’s About Climate Change

You Probably Won’t Read This. It’s About Climate Change

Climate change1

Irreversible and severe damage is being inflicted on the planet from climate change. Science tells us we are responsible.

‘’I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’’

John Lord

My youngest grandchild is 3 years old. In 70 years she will be my
age. I often contemplate just what sort of a world the leaders of today
are bequeathing the children of tomorrow. The evidence is irrefutable.
The absence of political leadership in the face of a problem that might
make two world wars by comparison seem superfluous is deplorable.

So why are we not raising new generations to be better
stewards of the environment and why is our government turning a blind
eye to it all?

I write this not under some pretext that I am some kind of expert on
the subject. On the contrary I am writing it because I am not. In fact I
have no deep understanding of science at all. Ask me how the internet
or even a common x ray works and I am found wanting, Test me on carbon
dating D&A, genetics or how the atom is split and I would fail the
simplest test. But then I suppose a lot of people share my ignorance.
But we can all apply the principle of common sense.

I do know that science in my lifetime has made the most staggering
achievements. The only areas I can think of where science has not been
embraced, recognised and enjoyed for all manner of reasons by an
appreciative society are religion and climate science.

Science is constantly questioned when it conflicts with a literal view
of creation and the other is climate change. Creationists generally
answer that Gods creation was a divine event and is therefore outside of
science. Given the state of our world religious people might well ask.
‘When did God die?’

Climate deniers fall into many categories but the main protagonists
seem to be from big business, media interests and the right of politics
who by enlarge see it as a threat to capitalism and the free market
system. They allow the stench of greed to invade their nostrils and
permeate their minds.

How does the layperson like me reach a view on such subjects without
any formal training? It’s simple. There are many areas (medicine for
example) that I don’t have a deep analytical understanding. Like many
others I listen to experts, apply common sense, observation and what my
life experience tells me. It is not difficult to understand a theory.
Generally people assume that a theory (for example the theory of
evolution) is something unproven.

In the scientific world, a theory is something that has evolved to fit known facts.

A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of
hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is
valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories
can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a
hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good
explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it’s
an accepted hypothesis.

Science for the most part is honest. There has at times been bad
science but it is always open to counter argument, revision and constant
peer examination. On the other hand simply denying climate science on
the basis of faith, mysticism or political ideology is tantamount to
denying rational explanation. Using common sense, I basically know that
science through reasoned, judicious enquiry, evaluation and testing is
the best way forward.

‘’The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace
what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the
consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to
amaze me’’

John Lord

The world is changing in so many ways. Not least a warming planet and
all the problems it will bring forth for future generation may very
well exceed all others. In Australia the subject has gone off the boil
(Pardon the pun) because of a campaign by vested interests who would
place business, ideology and profit before environmental sustainability.
The effectiveness of their work has been demonstrated by the public
decline in interest on the subject. Tony Abbott is good at demonization
and has successfully done so with Asylum Seekers and similarly with the
carbon tax arguing that if there was a cost involved he wouldn’t have a
bar of it.

Quoting Malcolm Turnbull

‘’First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut
emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations
with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear
power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all
going to cost money.’’

For the life of me, I cannot understand people who accept science as
fact, reap the benefits and use it every day, somehow become brain dead
when it comes to climate science.

However, lay people like me who believe in the existence of climate
change cannot honestly claim to know the veracity of the science for
ourselves but are happy to delegate this task to climate scientists.
Laypeople simply do not have the knowledge to adjudicate on the issue.

Conversely, those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus seek to
justify their belief by attaching themselves to a minority of science
deniers with obscure qualifications or worse, to right wing shock jocks
and journalists with no scientific training what so ever. These people
(like you and me) have no way of evaluating the volume of data produced
by the various scientific institutions. One of the most outspoken
deniers (Andrew Bolt) has, in recent times, been found guilty of
deceptive lying in that he defamed some white skinned aboriginals.

One has to wonder how many he has told when writing about his favorite topic climate change.

If I do not support the 95% of scientists, every major scientific
institution and the research that is constantly peer evaluated I am
obliged to accept the alternative. That is that I should take seriously
the likes of Andrew Bolt, (A journalist) Alan Jones, (I’m not sure how
you would describe his contribution to society) Lord Monckton (A
discredited something who was once a lobbyist for the tobacco companies)
Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott. (Both politicians). In fact, Minchin is
on the record as saying that climate change is a left wing conspiracy to
replace communism. None of the aforementioned people has a background
or expertise in climate science.

Now that’s not to say that they should not have a view and that that
view should not be considered as should any laypersons if they are of
that ilk.

But surely, we must respect the science otherwise; you put into question all science.

We are led by a technology luddite Prime Minister who doesn’t even
understand the reason for the internet or indeed its value to society.
Remember he wanted to destroy it. He has no grasp at all on the subject
of Climate Change and refuses to heed the mountains of evidence that is
peer tested year after year. Instead he offers often contradictory glib
observations about it being some sort of socialist plot. Or we have
always had droughts and always will.

But worse is the deplorable lie he tells when he says he believes in
climate change but only differs on the methodology in approaching the
problem. So unbelieving of the science is he that he is busy undoing all
research and other institutions within the framework of government.
Even the science ministry itself.

His alternative is a so called direct action policy where taxpayer’s
funds are given (repeat “are given”) to the polluters to clean up the
mess they have created without any guarantees they will do so. And no
penalty if they don’t. This method has no credence among professionals.

Indeed, Abbott has not produced one economist in support of direct action.

Treasury has qualitative evidence to suggest his plan will cost twice
as much as they have committed. It is a shame, indeed sad to see shadow
minister Greg Hunt who wrote his university thesis (with honours) in
support of a carbon tax now trying to defend something he so obviously
does not believe.

Quoting Malcolm Turnbull

‘’Second, as we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony
and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about
climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As
Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you
consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, its
cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing
conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.’’

The International Panel in its latest Climate change report singles out five key points

The world faces threat to food supply, conflicts over water rights and growing inequality. The only option is to cut emissions.

1. Food threat

Climate change is already taking a sizeable chunk out of global food
supply and it is going to get worse. Increases in crop yields – which
are needed to sustain a growing population – have slowed over the last
40 years. Some studies now point to dramatic declines in some crops over
the next 50 years – especially wheat, and to a lesser extent corn. Rice
so far is unaffected. The shortages, and the threat of food price
spikes, could lead to unrest.

2. Human security

Climate change poses a threat to human security, and could lead to
increased migration. Potential shortages of food and water, because of
climate change, could be drivers of future conflicts. These won’t
necessarily be wars between states, but conflicts between farmers and
ranchers, or between cities and agriculture industry which wants water
for food. On the flip side, those conflicts are going to get in the way
of government’s efforts to protect people from future climate change.

3. Inequality

Some are more vulnerable than others. Poor people in poor countries –
and even the poor in rich countries – are going to bear an unfair burden
of climate change, the report said. Climate change is going to
exacerbate existing inequalities, and it is going to make it harder for
people to claw their way out of poverty.

4. No-one is safe

As temperatures rise beyond 2 degrees to 4 degrees – our current
trajectory – there are limits to how far society can adapt to climate
change. The only way out is to cut emissions now – and buy some time by
slowing warming – and at the same time make plans for sea walls,
relocations, and other measures that can keep people out of harms’ way.

5. Hard but not hopeless.

The report notes that research on the effects of climate change has
doubled since the last report in 2007 – and so has understanding about
what needs to done to insulate people from more severe consequences.

American Secretary of State John Kerry had this to say after reading the report.

“Read this report and you can’t deny the reality: Unless
we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our
way of life are literally in jeopardy,” Kerry said in a statement.
“Let’s make our political system wake up and let’s make the world

But the question remains will we? If we accept the Australian Prime Ministers response the answer can only be an emphatic NO.

Further reading. The effect on food supply. What they IPCC chief had to say and how deniers reacted.

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