Posted by: maximos62 | November 21, 2009

Climate Change

As someone with a background in teaching Geography, both in the class room and, extensively, in the field I have a broad interest in environmental matters. Although this is the case I’ve had little to say about climate change as such, in fact I’m more interested in the way all environmental processes are influenced by human activity and in turn have impacts on society, culture and our capacity to lead healthy productive lives as a species.

Over the past 24 hours I’ve become aware that hackers have breached security at the University of East Anglia and have hacked into emails and documents, exchanged by some climate scientists , over a ten year period. Initial reports from some sources, insisted that it was the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met, that had been hacked. It isn’tclear whether this was mere confusion or an attempt to associate the Hadley Centre with the breach as well.

The emails were initially uploaded to a Russian server and accessible through FTP.  Climate change sceptics claim the leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists

Several sentences out of hundreds, if not thousand of emails are being used in an attempt to suggest that scientists are attempting to hide the facts.

One can only speculate about the motives of people who would seek to malign and discredit researchers.

The university has responded in general terms.  There is also an interesting response to hacking of the emails on climate change at Real Climate

I have much more to say on this and will post again later today.


Responses

  1. This is a pretty big story and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of it. Kevin Rudd keeps saying that 90% of our population believe in anthropomorphic global warming. But then you see polls like this one at Yahoo with over 12,000 votes (probably more than KRudd’s poll segments) – http://au.news.yahoo.com/polls/popup/-/poll_id/%2050116

    • Stu, yes I’ve noticed similar results in a poll conducted by the Times. I’d hazard a guess and suggest that this is likely to be related to several factors. One is a frequent reserve about government and the susceptibility some people have to arguments based on the notion that governments see Emissions Trading Schemes as a new tax and are merely using anthropogenic climate change as an excuse for a cash grab. Secondly, the difficulty the average person has in following the complexities of climate science, particularly the integrating information on historic climate from a diversity of sources from tree rings to ice cores. Thirdly, misunderstandings about the role of solar activity, ocean currents, volcanic activity and the interplay of climatic processes in the southern and northern hemispheres. The processes involved are complex.

      I also think it’s more than interesting that this hacking of the East Anglia University has come at such a time, just before Copenhagen.

      • Yes, but 38:62 is a long way from 90:10. Where does he get off quoting those sorts of breakdowns?

        The ETS is nothing more than a tax. It will achieve little if anything to actually reduce carbon emissions as the big companies buy credits through cheap investments in rainforests in third-world countries (that they caused the destruction of in the first place).

        Rudd wanting to see his ETS passed before Copenhagen is nothing more than a publicity grab on the world stage. Even worse, it’s stupid.

        I think it is interesting that this leak come out now, because clearly governments around the world are hesitating on agreeing to anything at Copenhagen, and this gives them a possible out.

        As they say, “something’s rotten in Denmark”.

  2. Maybe I am naive, but I like to keep things simple.
    Forget the ETS Tax. It is a bad is a tax / plan that should be abandoned. It will achieve little except to increase costs for business and for consumers. Will that lead to higher unemployment? I don’t know for certain.
    On the other hand I do think that we (the people of the world) should do things that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and that will benefit the earth’s environment and hence our standard of living.
    I would suggest that each of the world’s governments should, for example, provide 50%-80% of the cost of installing a 5kw-10kw solar electricity generating system on each home (new or old) where the necessary infrastructure (power grid, load bearing roof etc) is in place. That, to me, would do more to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel power generation than would the ETS.
    Other incentives could be introduced to develop technologies that would similarly increase the prevalence of non fossil fuel power generation.
    Legislation has been successful in introducing unleaded fuel in cars and more efficient vehicle engines with lower emissions. That is the way we should be going ~ not taxes and tax credits which can be bought and sold and effectively achieve little.

    • John, I think you make some good points on this. Thanks.

  3. Stu, I’m not quite as certain about the Rudd’s political motives. I can understand some of the pressure our government must feel given the long period of denial that characterised the previous administration.

    Recently I’ve been involved in an email exchange with some people and one in particular adopted the view that what must be feared is our Government. By implication his argument implied that our government isn’t genuine and it’s action on climate change and global warming is just a grab for cash, a matter of our government satiating it’s desire to spend our money. There was no attempt at analysing what might be done with the money or even the slightest reference to government policy. An ETS was presented merely as a drain on our hard earned wealth that will just drive up the costs of everything.

    His approach rests on an assertion that once the money is out of our hands, and in the hands of our government, the cost of everything that has an energy component in its production will simply rise. There is little real attempt to look at where the money might actually be spent, or who might benefit, or whether new industry might emerge, or change in patterns of trade might occur. There’s little real attempt to look at the policies and the practices emerging in the larger developing countries whose technology is undoubtedly polluting. There’s no acknowledgement of the massive size of our own per capita carbon foot print, merely a focus on just how small and insignificant we are and how little an impact we can have. Above all there’s little if any analysis of the costs of doing nothing along with a concerted effort to deny anthropogenic causes.

    Having said this I must emphasise that my primary concern is not entirely with the carbon problem. Deforestation in itself is climate changing, look at the Sahel http://www.eden-foundation.org/project/desertif.html


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