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Thread: Why nothing much gets done about climate change

  1. #1 Why nothing much gets done about climate change 
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    This study, done for the World Bank, attempts to explain why nothing much has happened or is happening to reduce the human impact on climate. It delves into the psychology of individuals (I think we can probably recognize ourselves here and there) and validates the rather obvious fact that certain industries have succeeded in distorting science in the eyes of the public, as for example in these quotes:

    The questioning of scientific certainty in the media is a recent phenomenon, and one worth devoting some attention to. The scientific process provides a mechanism for falsification, but not “proof.” This quality, together with the lack of public understanding of science has been manipulated in recent years. Given that all science contains a measure of uncertainty, if agencies can be prevented from imposing regulations until they are unambiguously “justified,” regulations can be defeated or postponed, often for decades.
    And
    Freudenburg, Gramling and Davidson (2008) trace the increasing call fors cientific certainty, or “proof” in public discourse before policies can be iplemented. This practice of calling for continued further study has allowed profitable but potentially risky activities to continue unabated. Based on their review of previously documented controversies, the authors suggest that “such calls may reflect not just a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science, but a clever and surprisingly effective political-economic tactic—“Scientific
    Certainty” Argumentation Methods, or SCAMs.” They further suggest that such SCAMs are both more widespread than has been previously recognized, and should be the focus of more attention in the future.
    The paper also states that this tactic of using scientific uncertainty to create a false controversy is widespread in the USA, which is clearly true, but much less evident in Britain and France.
    I wonder what the World Bank will do with this study that they commissioned.

    http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet...DF/WPS4940.pdf


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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    The real reason little has been done about climate change is that it is just too expensive. Currently we do not have the tools to substitute low carbon technologies for high carbon without too high a cost.

    Hopefully this will change. Compared to wide scale change to low carbon technologies, research and development is cheap. Thus, lots of research is under way to develop the tools we need. For example : replacing petrol driven cars with electric cars.

    There was a recent article in New Scientist describing how world climate recently has cooled. Not a lot, but significantly. It appears, according to the article, to have something to do with the North Atlantic Oscillation, which lasts some years, or even a decade or two. If they are correct, we may have 10 to 20 years respite.

    This may be enough time to develop the essential tools allowing a change to low greenhouse gas emitting technologies.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The real reason little has been done about climate change is that it is just too expensive. Currently we do not have the tools to substitute low carbon technologies for high carbon without too high a cost.
    Whenever costs are compared, we need to include subsidies such as those that the coal and oil industries enjoy, and of course the much smaller subsidies that renewables receive. In any case it is not just about new technology. The paper was about public attitudes, that are fostered by fossil interests so that we think riding the bus instead of driving to work is a hopeless, meaningless gesture, which it isn't. But Big Oil wants us to drive to work, and Big Coal wants us to believe "clean coal" and climate change are unconnected (they aren't).

    There was a recent article in New Scientist describing how world climate recently has cooled. Not a lot, but significantly. It appears, according to the article, to have something to do with the North Atlantic Oscillation, which lasts some years, or even a decade or two. If they are correct, we may have 10 to 20 years respite.
    That would be good, but wait and see how the paid hacks distort this news. See George Will, Washington Post, a few days ago. He's already spun the NS article to fit his politics.

    This may be enough time to develop the essential tools allowing a change to low greenhouse gas emitting technologies.
    Meanwhile, ride the bus, drive a hybrid, insulate the house.
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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Hi Skeptic,

    This supposed recent cooling has been analyzed by the folks at RealClimate and they point out today that the stabilizing (not cooling) trend appears only in the Hadley data and not in the GISS data which shows a continued warming trend consistent with IPCC calculations. The reason given for this discrepancy is that the Hadley data does not include arctic temperature trends where the warming has been the greatest.

    http://www.realclimate.org/

    I haven’t had a chance to read the New Scientist article. Does it have a different take on this?
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  6. #5  
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    At least in the US, I'd agree that the populist effect is a major obstacle to getting anything done on climate change. Misunderstanding the science and the role of science, coupled with a generalized distrust of specialists is attracting a lot of dead weight on the road to progress.

    And not just climate change. Think about the public reaction to the LHC, LCROSS Moon crash, and H1N1 vaccination. It's bizarre.
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