Thursday, December 03, 2009

No change, no hope

What Hansen says is sad but true.

Quibbling over percentage points won't get the job done on climate change. We need to go to zero in a hurry or we're stuffed.

It needs someone with balls to stand up and say that, but unfortunately we have Obama, a machine pollie who will not say anything that upsets the big money.

One of the problems with climate change is that the scientists can't lie and they do not know everything and can't claim they do. I know the deniers found some dodgy emails but they don't actually show any great conspiracy or anything like that. They just talk about how to present data best. Of course scientists can have a thesis and try to fit their observations to it. That's part of how science works. If the facts don't fit the thesis though, you bin the thesis. Some theses take more binning than others, that's true, but there isn't actually any question about global warming: the world is warming and human beings are causing it. The evidence is overwhelming for both statements and you have to be a flatout liar, charlatan or fool to deny it. Sadly, the world has plenty of all three.

What is not known is where exactly the "tipping point" is. We have probably not quite reached it, but we know that there is going to be one: a point at which the damage is not just irreversible but self-perpetuating. There will be so much carbon in the atmosphere that we cannot halt global warming; it will just continue.

As Hansen says, we are probably at a metre rise in sea levels now. You probably wouldn't need to worry too much about that if you're not Bangladeshi, an Islander or Dutch. We could save coastal cities using dikes and other mitigation technologies. The other disturbances we can probably handle, not least because most of the punishment will be borne by the third world, and let's face it, we don't really care about them.

A metre is nothing though. We face desolation. We face a planet we can't even live on. I mean, deny it if you want. Deny it till the day you die. Your grandkids will live it though. They won't thank you for the horror of what you've done.

The Liberals here (and I remind non-Australians that they are confusingly the conservative party) have elected Tony Abbott their leader. I can't use the right description for Mr Abbott on this blog, but suffice to say he was elected largely because he strongly opposes the Labor Party's milquetoast emissions trading scheme, which will not save the planet or anything like it. I don't doubt that Prime Minister Rudd wants the planet to be saved, but he feels constrained by the limits of political possibility.

Voting Liberal, or for any conservative of any type, always has the air of voting for greed today and eff tomorrow, among the other things that voting for racist wowsers entails, but electing Mr Abbott would be an act of criminal irresponsibility. Our grandchildren will indict us. They should. We are planning on leaving them a wasteland, our refuse tip, and it's a pity, because it's a beautiful world if we'll let it be.


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