Saturday, January 02, 2010

Climate Change Is REAL

I will update you on how I spent my NYE soon. But this first blog post of 2010 is a spin off from the last post of 2009 where I ended off by saying that Climate Change is bullshit. Though Climate Change wasn't the point of that post, and the statment was said in a tongue in cheek manner (along with saying that world doesn't end in 2012).... it did raise some contention among readers.

So, after consulting the almighty Google for facts on climate change, here's my stance on the subject.

Of course climate change is real. The earth’s climate has been changing for millions of years. But what is bullshit to me, is the alarmist and catastrophic slant that policy makers/the media/some scientists have created.
The subject of Global Warming (and then Climate change) has been going on now for like 20 years. We've been hearing so much about climate change on TV, in the papers, etc.

OK... so an ice cap melts, it starts snowing early somewhere, etc, etc, but all this is hardly unprecedented. The world has NEVER been a constant. The landscape of our planet has always been changing since the beginning of time. The globe warmed for a hundred years, cooled for the next 35 years, then warmed slightly again. Fault lines shift, volcanos erupt, you have drouhgts and floods and all the rest of it.

Heck.. eons ago, Vikings raised crops and cattle in (what is now Icy) Greenland!

The Peruvian glacier will vanish in 5 years... yes but there is also the growth of other glaciers.

And contrary to previous global warming scares, Greenland and Antarctica are gaining ice mass, not losing it.
The Kyoto Protocol would cost the US up to $348 billion in 2012, and the average American family has to pay an extra $2,700 annually for energy and consumer goods. The climate treaty would destroy 1.3 million jobs.

Globally, it carries a $450 billion to $1 trillion annual price tag (in regulatory bills, lower productivity, increased cost of living). That’s many times what it would cost to provide the world with clean drinking water and sanitation – which would prevent millions of deaths annually from intestinal diseases. (In fact, the UN calculates that $75 billion would ensure clean water, sanitation and basic health care for almost every person in the world!)

And cashing in on all this climate change hype, many use faulty models and exaggerated fears of climate cataclysm.
(What clever marketing. Compact Flourescent manufacturing companies ... kaaachiiing!$$$$ Make sure you buy their shares in the stock market!)

Also, there has been a leakage of emails exchanged by climate change researchers which constitutes evidence of a conspiracy among scientists to mislead the public on global warming. Hmmmmm.....

The reality of it (for me) is that the climate changes all the time and the planet is a dynamic system. Nothing stays the same. It's called evolution. The world will cope with changes... as it always has.

What say you?



  2. Anonymous2:29 pm

    hey Holly,

    Happy New Year and have a blessed 2010.


  3. Anonymous2:58 pm

    There's a chapter on this in "Superfreakonomics".

    In the 1970s, scientists were actually worried about "global cooling". Global warming has actually corrected the "problems" faced 40 years ago.

    p.s. Volcanic eruptions actually correct the imbalances in the stratosphere. Fascinating.

  4. Anonymous7:25 pm

    Haha...looks like Holly did a crash course google search on climate change info then cut n paste everything she found and call it an article. Actually there's no need to write the article to sound intellectual cos people come here to read trashy entertainment anyway, so no point trying so hard...but nice try nonetheless. I prefer you to stick to blogging about frivolous stuff really!

  5. kingkong8:59 pm

    funny facts by the late george carlin on saving the planet.

  6. @kingkong & Rusty - thanks for the links.

    @anon2.58 - Yes! SuperFreakonomics! interesting !

    @Bernard - Thank u. Happy NY to u too.

    @ anon7.25pm- What? were you expecting me to get my facts by launching my own climate research then?

    Your preference is noted, with thanks. :)

  7. Anonymous4:10 am

    Hi Holly,

    I agree with you that a lot in the climate change debate has been twisted, exaggerated, and manipulated for particular political aims. This occurs for camps on both sides of the debate.

    As someone who does climate research, I think a lot of the seemingly conflicting evidence also stems largely from the difficulty in communicating climate research results (and its uncertainties) to politicians to the public. Climate scientists may come up with a finding that the world is going to warm by X by 2050/get more rain, floods etc by Y, subject to A, B, and C uncertainties and conditions. Politicians typically just want a figure, so a best estimate is usually reported in the media with little regard for the assumptions/uncertainties inherent in such projections. (For example, how many people who quote the figures by IPCC have actually gone through the whole report and paid attention to gaps/uncertainties in the research literature, or what climate modelling is actually about?)

    I disagree, however, with your point that since climate change has occurred throughout history, there is no need to worry about the change that has recently occurred and is projected to occur.

    Discounting the fact that modern climate change is largely anthropogenic (i.e. in addition to the mechanisms that cause natural long and short-term fluctuations in climate), projected climate change has very real repercussions for humans [1].

    You mention the example of melting Peruvian glaciers with build up of glaciers elsewhere, as if the two are mutually substitutable. Peruvians are likely to face serious water shortages in the future with the loss of glacier melt in spring/summer, and before that they'll likely get bad floods when the glaciermelt overwhelms river capacities. That's just one example, but the consequences for humans are very real. Add to that the fact that many of the people worst equipped to deal with the impacts of climate change are often the poorest and most underprivileged in society (at both national and international levels), and who had little to do with the emissions of greenhouse gases in the first place, and the distribution of climate change impacts becomes terribly unjust.

    I could go on forever but probably should stop here. Climate change is a constant - that I agree - but that doesn't quite mean it doesn't matter.

    1)(Less so for animals/plants/trees, which have shown remarked resilience to climatic changes provided change isn't abrupt - they're more at risk from anthropogenic activity)

  8. @anon 4.10am- Thank you for taking the trouble to explain to me and stating your points. It does give me a different perspective to consider.

    I agree that it could be that the scientists were not out to deceive the public but bits of their reports were used by politicians (with political aims) and the media (sensationalists!) without regard to climate change as w whole.

    But what about those leaked emails though?

    My point about the Peruvian glaciers melting being countered by the build up of glaciers elsewhere... sure, they are not mutually substitutable. But I always thought of mother earth as being able to naturally balance things out. Sort of a one door shuts,another door opens thing.

    Yes, regretably tht glacier melting will cause floods etc for those there. But wouldn't it be great for the driest parts of Africa to have a little rain some time? Not all change is bad. But with the good changes will also come the bad changes.

    I don't see how humans/ human activity can manipulate how the planet evolves and changes to a point that it benefits everyone. Are we supposed to aim for the planet staying exactly the same as it is now, when it hasn't been the same... for like... ever? Or are we just aiming to it slow down? Why? Not all change is going to be bad. We cannot pick and choose.

    I just can't seem to get over the feeling that the politicians etc are causing a much greater alarm than necessary, for their own selfish reasons, and not for the greater altruistic good.

    Sorry if my points are coming across as ignorant. I am after all a layman when it comes to climate change.

  9. Anonymous2:16 pm

    Surely one of the key points about the climate change debate is that it is encouraging all nations and all peoples to consider how they are living, and whether this is sustainable over the next generation or two.

    In my mind, it isn't just about carbon dioxide emissions. Its a debate that, rightly, is encouraging countries to look at all forms of human behaviour in terms of how it impacts the environment. Arguably, we should have done this long ago.

    The key thing to think about is... can we really afford for India and China - countries with huge populations - to develop along the same lines as the way the average north American currently lives? Do people honestly think the planet can safely absorb the full impact of, say, all 1.3bn Indians having 3 cars??

    If not, then we need developed countries to change their ways, and set an example, and for developing countries to take note, and make efforts to encourage their own sustainable development.

    The downside of doing nothing is potentially huge. And, if we clean up our act, and later research shows that it wasn't needed, then at least we can say we acted prudently, and didn't take chances with our (only) planet. And the cost? The cost is measured in tenths of percentage points of future GDP growth.

    For god's sake people - what is the problem with at least being open minded to the fact that we should make an effort to try and live a bit more sustainably?

    Why are people reacting so hysterically to this discussion?

    To me, it's an entirely over-due debate. Anyone who doubts this should take a trip to HK or Shenzhen and take a nice deep gulp of the air there and ask themselves if, as Holly suggests, mother earth is easily coping with the ebb and flow of current human behaviour.

    At the end of the day - I'm happy to sacrifice a few dollars of future income for the peace of mind that governments have made real efforts, now, to prevent a possible issue becoming a definite issue.

  10. Anonymous3:08 pm

    hey a friend just came back from HK two days ago with terrible allergies! he blamed it on the air there... might be something to this after all.

  11. Anonymous5:38 pm

    Hi Holly

    Re: the leaked emails, I think it does bring up some very legitimate questions about legitimate transparency, but the few instances of perceived attempts at collusion are not enough to debunk the whole archive of scientific research and publications as myth.

    The media portrayal of the whole Climategate incident has been rather one-sided. I'm not saying its wrong, but I think it's quite valuable to see the issue from the perspective of those involved in climate research:

    Your other point about Earth's ability to maintain a natural balance I do agree with - temperature and carbon dioxide, for example, have stayed within remarkably stable boundaries despite the ups and downs. But that's no reason to say it doesn't matter. Particularly so because these recent changes have been anthropogenic in nature - it is only with the inclusion of anthropogenic emissions that models can more realistically simulate climate for the last 2 centuries or so. In other words, natural variability alone cannot account for the changes in climate. This is a moot point if you think all models are a fraud and designed to give inputs scientists want (some sceptics do), but I maintain that models are based on rather solid fundamentals of physics.

    And re: the impacts of climate change, where one door closes, another opens; true, climate change represents opportunities for some. But its not necessarily a zero-sum game - I'm currently seeing a lot of potential lose-lose situations. Especially with changes in rainfall. Some places might get drier whilst others will get wetter, but extreme rainfall events (extreme drought or heavy precipitation) are likely to become more frequent. And there is a physical basis for this, warming of the troposphere means the atmosphere can hold more water, and so a greater tendency for increased annual rainfall to be concentrated into a few big events.

    And I also agree with anon@2.16pm, that a large part of this whole debate is about responsibility. Not just human responsibility to the Earth/environment, but also for other humans. Hence my previous point that the people who will likely be least equipped to deal with climate change will also be the ones who contributed least to emissions. I'm not claiming that there is a way to manipulate change such that ALL these people are actively benefited, but surely it would only be fair to at least not cause changes that would be difficult for people to cope with? [And living in drought-prone regions like the Sahel is not necessarily unfortunate for the nomadic peoples there. They have over many generations come up with excellent ways to adapt with their environment, and I think the main reason why the region faces problems of land degradation and etc is largely because these coping mechanisms have been interfered with, for example, because colonialists appropriated their land, introduced Western land rights and agricultural machines which are all rather unsuitable for the local environment. Population pressures don't help. And when climate change does occur even these mechanisms are not likely to be effective.]

    I do sometimes feel the same way as you do about political alarmism. Such as when funding for biodiversity conservation is misguidedly diverted from efforts to reduce human poaching/land encroachment to protecting species from climate change, when the truth is far fewer species are predicted to become endangered from climate change but many have become extinct because of other human impacts like hunting and trading. But that's no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps I'm an idealist and there just is no way to get humans to do anything remotely unselfish and responsible, I don't know but I think its worth at least a concerted effort.

  12. Anonymous12:53 am

    Maybe we should just all try to be more green..regardless of this climate change thing. I'm not really on any side for this climate change issue but I believe pollution is getting worse.