Doubters Vindicated?


The climate summit in Copenhagen already looks like it’s running into trouble with some leaked emails in the first couple of days outraging African nations (who worry a discussed goal of limiting warming to two degrees isn’t enough) and Saudi Arabia, which has responded to hacked emails as if of course it would have been interested in tackling climate change — if only it weren’t for the doubts raised in emails over the science.

Of course the fact that some scientists appear to have tampered with data is troubling — in an effort to highlight the problem they may well have helped undermine the case for action. But at the end of the day, those want to find fault with the science will always find some other excuse anyway. Just look at this editorial I saw on Fox (I know, I know — no surprises here maybe, but it does prove my point):

‘But other experts say this should be used as an opportunity to step back and look at the big picture and that scientists often have different opinions. “Of course there’s always uncertainty, but as I say, on this issue, less uncertainty than on many other issues we’ve dealt with scientifically,” Ned Helme of the Center for Clean Air Policy told Fox.’

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Perhaps I’m missing something, but to me the point Helme is making is clearly that there’s actually general agreement on this issue — quite the opposite of what the Fox writer seems to be trying to sow in people’s heads.

Anyway, one of our contributors is at the conference now and is sending a series of short dispatches, the first of which appears today and covers some of this early controversy. But just to close with a specifically Asia angle on this, I think this analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace makes a strong case for why China’s proposed contribution is actually much better than it is being given credit for:

‘The Chinese commitment target is a strong one by any measure. No developing country in economic history-other than post-Mao China-has cut its energy-related greenhouse gas emissions growth so deeply for so long. For a developing country to legally bind itself to achieve such a target is surprising, and reflects China’s fear of climate change.’

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