Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Climate change likely to be more devastating

Climate change likely to be more devastating than experts predicted, warns IPCC scientist Chris Field : "recent climate studies suggest that the fourth assessment report underestimated the potential severity of global warming over the next 100 years. 'We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected, primarily because developing countries, like China and India, saw a huge upsurge in electric power generation, almost all of it based on coal,' Field said.

This trend is likely to continue, he added, if more developing countries turn to coal and other carbon-intensive fuels to meet their energy needs. 'If we're going to continue re-carbonizing the energy system, we're going to have big CO2 emissions in the future,' he said. 'As a result, the impacts of climate change will probably be more serious and diverse than those described in the fourth assessment.'"

Positive feedback loops are provided by drying rain forests, which are more likely to catch fire, and by methane released by warming tundra.

The sober warnings provided by scientists clashes with the insouciant confidence of the global heating denialists, whose philosophy of the supremacy of the individual to do whatever he wants to do dictates that any limits, whether physical, biological or physical, must be ignored and set aside.

The denialists are like the scholastic philosopher Caesar Cremonino, who refused to look through Galileo's telescope to see the craters on the moon, on the grounds that Aristotle has written that the moon was a perfect sphere.

It is tempting to simply ignore the denialists. This is not a good idea, since they have such a strong influence on public opinion through journalists like Melanie Phillips, and on because of their weight of numbers on comment slots on the web, and in letters to local papers. We have to keep rebutting their claims. It is not difficult. All the denialist claims can be found and countered from this source.

Why are they so influential? First, because their position is comfortable. It requires no change of mindset, no change of lifestyle, no sacrifice, except insofar as they have higher fuel bills than we who are cutting down on energy use.

We know that the big institutions and at least some of the main speakers for climate change denial are, or have been, paid by Exxon, (Esso), the big oil company.

Could it be that some of the smaller operators, the bloggers and commentators like Iron Mike and strict and particular libertarians like Courtney Hamilton are also being paid per 1000 words on some kind of stealth marketing? That would explain their extraordinary persistence, but it is impossible to prove until one of them, finally bowed by the weight of evidence, or maybe when his house is blown away by one hurricane too many, repents and confesses.

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