7 Dec 2009

The Wave, Cop(out)enhagen, Climategate and Stroud march

Some 50,000 people marched in London from many different organisations - two coaches from Stroud organised by Stroud District Green party went and many others went up on the train - I sadly was unable to go at the last minute but have heard reports from those who went.

Photos: from Liz Hillary and The Wave on Saturday

Gordon Brown has praised the protesters for "propelling" leaders to reach the "first world climate change agreement" - and it wasn't just London - Glasgow saw 7,000 and many other cities had demos and vigils in support - yet still Copenhagen is not looking like it will deliver. We have not taken action sufficiently as a world and as many have said this is really one of our last opportunities to act - a climate change agreement is not only necessary, it's absolutely essential.

On top of all this we have the deniers...not sure if that is really a useful description but certainly the Climate Change deniers have been having 'fun' recently - in our local Stroud News and Journal letters praising the work of Plimer's book have appeared - I was pleased to see the SNJ had this week printed a Green party response - see it here - more on Plimer below - but of much greater concern are the emails from the University of East Anglia climate scientists that were obtained by hackers. This is serious stuff.

The emails reveal the private conversations of scientists who commanded universal respect for their work. There is talk in one email of redefining peer review work to exclude a paper and in another of deleting an unfavourable temperature record from his computer rather than risk it being made public through a Freedom of Information request. Monbiot rightly called for the Head of the unit Phil Jones to resign - indeed many others joined the call and he has now stepped down temporarily.

We await the investigation - but this doesn't invalidate the science that underpins our approach to tackling climate change nor should it change what is needed at Copenhagen. The science has been verified by dozens of independent research establishments.

See Ecologist article on Climategate here and Green comment from Dr Lawson (who has blogged on this issue for the last week or more) on the interview on BBC with Prof Watson here. See Monbiot on it here.

So back to Plimer...

Well a Green colleague highlighted some key points about the book taken from a 38-page critique of Plimer's book by Prof Ian Enting from the University of Melbourne:
- misrepresents the content of IPCC reports on at least 13 occasions, as well as misrepresenting the operation of the IPCC and the authorship of IPCC reports; - has at least 17 other instances of misrepresenting the content of cited sources; - has at least 2 graphs where checks show that the original is a plot of something other than what Plimer claims and many others where data are misrepresented; - has at least 6 cases of mispresenting data records in addition to some instances (included in the the total above) of misrepresenting data from a cited source.

Further comments on Plimer's book can be found by Professor Barry Brook, Director of Climate Science at The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide who comments here. While there are several individuals review the book here.

In the end, this is not an academic debate, because we and our children are part of the experiment. The consensus among scientists (yes, with a few exceptions, as is always the case in science) that we should decarbonise our economy as a matter of urgency.

If we decarbonise our economy, and it turns out that IPCC view is wrong? Well, we will have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in insulation and manufacturing and taken thousands out of fuel poverty. Not bad, but that's not all. We will also have reduced the shock of Peak Oil and Peak Gas. And addressed our energy security problems. And prosperity in hot countries. Not bad.

Say we go the way of the denialists/sceptics? We will have problems with energy security, Peak Oil, Peak Gas, fuel poverty, unemployment, poverty, civil unrest and finally, massive, catastrophic climate disruption from droughts, floods, crop failures, disease, and war. With massive migration caused by environmental collapse. Not good.

I would put my money on decarbonising the global economy.

What are we calling for at the Summit?

Well Green politicians key issues include:

- a much higher level of ambition. At the very least, the summit must provide clear foundations for a global deal: binding emissions reduction targets, uniform rules for measuring emissions, strong compliance mechanisms and common but differentiated responsibility: recognising different historical contributions to environmental degradation, so that fairness is at the heart of any new deal.

- reductions to be made domestically: not ‘outsourced’ to poorer countries through complicated and confusing off-set schemes

- world leaders to establish significant funding for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries who bear the cost in loss of life. This could prove to be a real sticking point, as the scale of financing needed for this purpose has so far been vastly underestimated.

- governments to recognise that investing in the alternatives to polluting, finite fossil fuels, together with a shift to a more sustainable economic model, will actually benefit society and the economy as well as the environment – and therefore have the courage to be more ambitious. Nationally this means implementing a Green New Deal with a programme of investment to insulate people's homes, get local renewable energy and public transport infrastructure projects up and running, that use local employment and benefit everyone. If you took away the need to reduce carbon emissions this investment would still improve life in communities across Britain.

As one Green said in response to questioning man-made climate change: "The point to remember is that if we are wrong about man's contribution to climate chaos there are still good reasons to implement our policies. If the climate sceptics are wrong the implications for our children and grandchildren and for all other life on this planet are dangerous, irreversible and we will be to blame. For me this is a moral question. I am joining this march because I know which decision I would rather live with. "

As a last point to finish on it was interesting to see that Stroud is 123rd in the list (out of 646) of highest emissions - see here - the richer areas are also those with the greener ambitions - a certain irony in that as Green policies are about making it fairer for all - indeed the newish Green party slogan is 'Fair is Worth Fighting For'....but that's an issue to return to another day...

Join the local march and vigil

For those Stroud residents who could not be on the march but would like to add their voice to those calling for strong leadership to tackle climate change at Copenhagen, there will be a procession and vigil in Stroud this Saturday 12th December. Starting at 10.30am from the Ram at the top of the High St, this will finish at the Sub Rooms forecourt for activities, message tree and candlelit vigil.


Philip Booth said...


Philip Booth said...

Here is another view:

Letter: shame on the Ecologist for joining climategate melee

Asta Audzijonyte

7th December, 2009
The UEA hacked emails reveal nothing of substance, and the deniers' charges should not be repeated by the Ecologist

Dear Editor,

It is extremely disappointing to read an editorial like this from the Ecologist journal.

Respected scientific journals Nature and Science investigated this scandal and found no reason for concern about scientific integrity. It does not matter what scientists wrote to each other in PRIVATE emails, it matters how they acted. The controversial scientific paper was NOT blocked from the IPCC report, and the controversies were discussed scientifically. And the outcry about the single word 'trick' is simply pathetic - scientists, artists and writers use this word all the time to describe some clever ways of doing things.

Yes, scientist have to struggle for funding, but science is not business. The goal of business is profit, the goal of science is knowledge. One pursues a business career in order to become rich. Yet, choosing a scientific career with a goal of getting rich is definitely a bad idea.

What the hacked emails show is that climate change scientists are normal humans and can lose their temper when being constantly attacked for what they do. It seems the Ecologist now joins the line of those attackers.

One more comment. You write: 'Had these emails been hacked from the accounts of prominent climate sceptics, the Ecologist would have been amongst the first to highlight their nefarious content'.

It seems from your comment that you give similar credibility to both climate change scientists and sceptics. There is no need to hack emails from climate change 'sceptics'. They can openly make statements based on absolutely scientifically incorrect data, or no data at all. They can receive funding from big companies. Comparing climate change science with the arguments of sceptics is the same as comparing evolution with creationism.

Perhaps one thing the Ecologist should notice - the climate change 'sceptics', not scientists, are usually working in business area. Shame on the Ecologist for (inadvertently) joining the gang whose goal is to impede a progress on climate change action by any possible dirty means.

Asta Audzijonyte
Post-doctoral fellow
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Anonymous said...

Some pictures from the Wave march here:

Philip Booth said...

Great photos in the last link - did see many Stroud faces and the Glos Green party banner.