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The Climate Change Revolution

Jeffrey SachsJeffrey Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Through Project Syndicate he is a regular contributor to Webdiary. His previous article was Winning the Peace.

by Jeffrey Sachs


The world is in the midst of a great political transformation, in which climate change has moved to the center of national and global politics. For politicians in persistent denial about the need to act, including US President George W. Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, there is no longer any place to hide. The science is clear, manmade changes in climate are being felt, and the electorate’s demand for action is growing. Though unlikely just a few months ago, a strong global agreement by 2010, one that will set a path for action for decades to come, now stands a good chance of being implemented.

Political leaders in countries that produce coal, oil, and gas – like the US, Australia, and Canada – have pretended that climate change is a mere hypothesis. For several years, the Bush administration tried to hide the facts from the public, deleting references to manmade climate from government documents and even trying to suppress statements by leading government scientists. Until recently, Exxon Mobil and other companies paid lobbyists to try to distort the public debate.

Yet truth has triumphed over political maneuvers. The climate itself is sending a powerful and often devastating message. Hurricane Katrina made the US public aware that global warming would likely raise the intensity of destructive storms. Australia’s great drought this past year has similarly made a mockery of Howard’s dismissive attitude toward climate change. 

Scientists themselves have operated with great seriousness of purpose in educating the public. We can thank the United Nations for that. The UN sponsors the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a worldwide body of hundreds of climate scientists who report every few years to the public on the science of climate change.

This year, the IPCC is releasing its fourth round of reports, starting with the one issued early in February. That report was unequivocal: there is a powerful scientific consensus that human activity, mainly the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), as well as deforestation and other land uses (such as growing paddy rice), leads to massive emissions of carbon dioxide into the air. This is causing climate change, which is accelerating and poses serious risks to the planet.

The single biggest threat comes from the production and consumption of energy for electricity, transport, and heating and cooling buildings. But the world’s scientists and engineers, as well as global technology leaders such as General Electric, are also sending a clear message: we can solve the problem at modest cost if we put our best thinking and action into real solutions.

By shifting to alternative energy sources, economizing on energy use, and capturing and safely storing the carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels, global society can limit its emissions of carbon dioxide to prudent levels at an estimated cost of under 1% of global income. The changeover to a sustainable energy system will not come quickly, and will require new kinds of electrical power plants, new kinds of automobiles, and “green buildings,” which economize on energy use.

The process will take decades, but we must start now and act on a global basis, using carbon taxes and emission permits to create market-based incentives for companies and individuals to make the necessary changes. Those incentives will come at modest cost and huge benefit, and they can be designed to protect the poor and shift the climate-change burden to those who can afford it.

A reasonable timetable is possible. By the end of 2007, all of the world’s governments should begin negotiations on a climate-change system for the years after 2012, when the current Kyoto Protocol expires. Basic principles should be established during 2008, and by 2009, the world community, including the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, the US and China, should be ready to make a serious deal, which should be concluded by 2010 and ratified in time to replace the Kyoto Protocol.  

The Kyoto Protocol was the first attempt at such a system, but it applied only to rich countries and set only modest objectives. The richest country and biggest contributor to global climate change, the US, didn’t even sign. Neither did Australia. Canada signed but has failed to act. Nor did huge energy users like China and India, which must be part of any meaningful solution, face serious responsibilities under the Kyoto agreement.

All of that will have to change. All countries will have to shoulder their responsibilities to the rest of the world and to future generations. 

There is now a way for individuals and companies to make their own voices heard. The Earth Institute at Columbia University, which I direct, hosted a Global Roundtable of leading businesses, environmental groups, and other international organizations to reach a consensus to help inform the upcoming negotiations. The Roundtable produced an important Statement of Principles and a longer overall statement that has been signed by many of the world’s largest businesses, including those based in the US, Europe, Canada, China, and India. Many of the world’s leading scientists signed, too.

Global climate change requires global decisions, and initiatives like the Roundtable Statement show that we can find areas of agreement for powerful action. It’s time for the world’s political holdouts to join that effort.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2007.

Individuals can sign the Climate Statement of Principles



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He must have taken notes from JWH

In the NYT, 3/5/07, GWBush is quoted as saying:

"Whatever we do must be in concert with what happens internationally.  Unless there is an accord with China, China will produce greenhouse gases that will offset anything we do in a brief period of time."

He must have taken notes from JWH.  How dismal that these two are not prepared to be leaders, except in killing. 

"Vanity - vanity is all". Another Andrew Peacock?

After watching him on TV several times, I consider that the only thing  consistent about Malcolm Turnbull is his patronising arrogance.

With obvious hubris he portrays perseverance with the lesser types who aspire to challenge his "two bob each way" statements.

Yesterday he really outdid himself.


"Well, there is no country in the world that is doing more practically and effectively to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes of global warming".

Being in the Howard "New Order" government of depraved indifference, who do not believe in "Global Warming" or "Climate Change" - that is a ridiculous claim to make.

But then, he could mean the billions of taxpayers funds that will be spent on planting trees in Asian countries - with some in Australia!  Fair dinkum.

Will the "New Order" Liberals send some of their skeptics to plant them - or will they just give the respective governments the money?

Who will cultivate them - who will protect them - and after the lengthy growing period - who will stop them from being logged again? Struth.

"We will not set targets that will devastate the Australian economy."

And when Paul Bongiorno stated that the Government of Arnold Scharzenegger in California has set a target of 80% by 2050, Turnbull replied:  "But he has no way of meeting that.  This is aspiration...".

And then a peek at the real thoughts of Malcolm Turnbull: "Arnold Schwarzenegger will be contributing to the carbon cycle himself as probably you and I will, as will Mr. Rudd."

So for people like myself - we shouldn't give a damn?  Vanity and selfishness, the shortsighted plans of the "New Order".

MT: "Well, for Labor it's a religious issue.  Labor is verging on becoming fanatical about this issue..."

Michelle Gratton:  Seems religious for the public?

MT:  I think that religion is a very poor guide to public policy, I have to tell you...Nick Stern said at this stage to ratify Kyoto would symbolic for Australia.

Michelle:  Is he a religious fanatic too?

Brian Toohey:  If Australia's going to become poorer, other than if agnostics like yourself look at climate change, surely the reality is that in fact Australia will become richer and that dealing with climate change will not be a big problem.  Two of the major industry groups involved directly in this area, the Energy Supply Association of Australia and the National Generators Forum have both done detailed studies involving very deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and they fnd that the price of electricity will rise by less thana the growth in the Australian economy and the growth in people's incomes.  So that the reality, far from becoming poorer, the cost of electricity will be a smaller part of people's household budgets and most business budgets.

MT:  Well, Brian, all of these models are only as good as the assumptions as you know.

And so it goes on - left side, right side, duck and weave. But above all, make sure the "untermenschens" are kept in their place.

No real plans because they would require predictions and assumptions.  Fair dinkum.

And if any of the Ladies are thinking of another Andrew Peacock remember that:  "There is no better mask for an evil heart than a handsome face."

There is no truth - just the media's "show ponies" without substance.


What climate change?

While Howard continues with his PERSONAL God-given knowledge that Climate Change is a "furphy" and that the American Democrat Al Gore is a "Peeved Politician" - the number of climate disasters in the entire world continues to increase.

It is "head in the sand" to say, "it has happened before" - or Costello's excuse that it is the "worst drought in 100 years" when the scientists [not obligated to the "New Order" regime] have continually warned, for the last decade or so, that the warming of the planet is a pending irreversible catastrophy.

Then, we have the ex CEO of "Goldman Sachs" who was the legal adviser of the fraud perpetrated by the FAI/HIH scandal, telling us that HE can be trusted to solve our Climate/water problems. Fair dinkum.

On Lateline, Turnbull said that the future of climate change is like looking into a crystal ball.  He said that "no one can predict the economy in 10 years time" - they can only "forecast" or plan, or assume!!!   Read the transcript.

After saying that we (even them) cannot PREDICT but only ASSUME he stated that the Howard "New Order" Liberals have a Kyoto target for 2008 - 2012 and "WE WILL MEET IT"! Struth.

The total arrogance and lack of knowledge of his appointed portfolio, "Howard's golden child" was deeply discredited in a genuine questionaire by the ABC's Lateline host Tony Jones.  (Howard's latest ABC board appointee has to muzzle him).

Turnbull even stated that if we weren't careful - we MAY have to export jobs!!! On what planet does this person live!!! If that is so, why are we bringing in low paid "Coolies" while, at the same time, exporting jobs?

Currently, my Wife and I are receiving annoyng phone calls from (the U.N. classified most corrupt country in the world) - India.  You know, where Howard's Liberals are "outsourcing" jobs. 

Not only is Howard continually uninformed and "kept out of the loop" but apparently, so is the Bankrupt Millionaire Turnbull. 

While it is dawning on most Australians that the Howard "New Order" will faithfully follow the trail of disaster of the Bush Rebublican regime no matter what, we can only hope that the U.S. Democrats will "take the right fork in the road".

During this year of 2007 - we have a chance.

It's time to take back Australia.

We have a chance - It's time to take back Australia.

Out of the loop

Ernest William, Howard and Turnbull out of the loop, what about Peter Garrett (Rudd's Golden Child) he cannot remember what the Labor policy is for longer than an hour. I am sure you caught his jem of a performance the other day.

It is really discouraging

It is really discouraging when one sees that some people can't appraise an issue objectively, but have to see it as endorsing/opposing some political faction, and react accordingly.

Was the Great Flood world wide? Did it matter to Noah?

Jay White: "Anyone getting the feeling that this whole climate change thing is turning into a religion?"

Well, they're already claiming miracles. I mean, an inhabited island in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta is "washed off the face of the earth" by global warming, according to Climate Action and some doofus on SBS television, yet nobody else is affected. Like, the sea rose there enough to consume an entire inhabited island - but nowhere else.

Let's assume for a minute that the mean elevation of the island's inhabited surface was a metre above sea level.  I mean, that's a pretty flat, low-lying island by any measure wouldn't you say?

Anyway, let's imagine that this pancake of an island only a metre above sea-level is, for whatever reason, inhabited by folk willing to risk their lives against the vagaries of tide and storm to live in such a place. Maybe the weather in the Ganges is really calm most days because it's sacred or whatever.  Then, suddenly, the sea level rises enough to "wash the island off the face of the earth" because of global warming in, what, a single generation? Or less? I mean, this is the kind of thing they are saying.  So, at least a metre increase in the sea level of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta because of global warming - and nobody else is affected? I reckon a metre increase in the sea-level wouldn't be confined to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, somehow. It would be a massive change that would be immediately noticeable worldwide. Even by communists and SBS journalists and other intellectually disadvantaged types.

You'll notice that the "environmentalists" (communist propagandists) at Climate Action don't bother even to mention what the topography of the island was like, or whether erosion was underway, or what other possible factors may have been at work.  The disappearance of the island was "caused" by "Global Warming" which, according to some and subject to very heavy qualification, is perhaps and just maybe a contributing factor in the sea-level rise over the 20th Century of, wait for it, 1.7 ± 0.3 mm per year - except in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta where it "washed an island off the face of the earth".  There you go, something for the Creationists - a localised Great Flood.

Michael Coleman: "C Parsons, could you please provide a recent example of the "hysterical blather" from Peter Garret that so offends you?"

I think the backflip over the US bases was particularly funny.

"Great Flood" ?

I said I'd get back to the issue of "wild-cards" in sea-level change and C Parsons' post is a perfect lead-in. CP's rhetorical scenario implicitly assumes all sea-level change must be the same worldwide. Some sources of sea-level change do affect sea-level all around the globe, and these are what we refer to as "eustatic." They originate from any process that changes the amount of water in the oceans. That means, for the most part anything that melts glacial ice or makes glaciers grow.

The sea-level rise I was talking about earlier that's due to the ocean heating up is what we call "thermosteric" expansion - a fancy way of saying that water expands as it warms and this raises sea level. This sea-level change is not uniform around the globe because the ocean has not warmed at the same rate, and the warming has not penetrated to the same depth everywhere.

Glaciers are a wild card because there are scenarios in which they may actually grow (at least in the short-term) under global warming and take water out of the ocean. Counterintuitive perhaps but reasonable when you consider that the main reason many larger ice sheets do not grow larger is that there is so little snowfall far inland. On the other hand it's so cold near their centers that they are a long a way from melting. So a bit of warming in the surrounding ocean could result in more moisture being delivered to the ice sheets. This of course would be balanced by increased melting at the edges.

The other problem is that the large ice sheets have very long time constants, and may still be responding to past climate changes. New research just out in the past few months may be revising that paradigm and suggesting the ice sheets may respond quicker than previously thought. Helen Fricker's work, just published in Science last month, suggests a far more active subglacial water system under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet than anyone thought about before. This would tend to "lubricate" the ice sheet and allow it to respond more quickly to warming. Not so quickly as to be responsible for inundating islands within a year, but (possibly) quickly enough to intersect with economic time-scales of decades.

Because ice sheets like this have the potential to change sea-level by meters their future behavior is of great concern.

Bio-Fuel Opportunity

Jay White"The need to deny one's self of all earthly pleasures (in this case modern living) is a constant. The talk of community and group punishment is also a constant."

If we could convert all of the cellulose in your straw-men arguments into ethanol, we would make real progress in our quest for renewable  energy. It seems your supply of straw is inexhaustable.

Would you care to provide a quote or two to back up your claim above? Who is asking anybody to give up all earthly pleasures? Since when has modern living been the source of all earthly pleasures?

I contend that the most prevalent and rabid religion in our industrial society is devotion to the myth of progress; the foolish notion that everything new is, by definition, better than what was replaced.

I accept that change will involve some pain. We have taken a turn down a dead-end track by building a society that depends on cheap, abundant, liquid energy and a financial system that depends of perpetual growth. Undoing the damage will not be all peaches and cream.

IMHO, the real earthly pleasures are simple and anything but modern. The love of - and time with - family and friends and a sense of belonging to a community rate much higher in my view than mindless consumption with all of the negative consequences for self, family, society and, yes, the environment. The idea that squandering resources and pounding the consumption treadmill provides real pleasure is the big lie sold to you by the high priests of the advertising industry.

The Church of the Environment

Anyone getting the feeling that this whole climate change thing is turning into a religion? A puritanical one at that? Belief has become almost all or nothing.

Sure you might go to Church on Sunday but hardly start screaming heretic and burn the witch at any person who may slightly disagree one would think. This religion is, though, starting to look rather puritanical And just like all puritanical religions it all ends in a fire and brimstone engulfed apocalypse. The need to deny one's self of all earthly pleasures (in this case modern living) is a constant. The talk of community and group punishment is also a constant. That is the thing with religion throughout the ages. Lose one and another is always found down the line.

Some Examples Please

C Parsons, could you please provide a recent example of the "hysterical blather" from Peter Garret that so offends you? I admit I haven't spent a long time looking at what he's said lately, but I don't remember anything particularly outrageous.


I'm quite certain that the bigger downside risk comes from not doing enough to quit dumping fossil carbon in the atmosphere and to prepare  for the imminent peak in conventional oil and gas production. As I see it, certainty about future outcomes is unnecessary. This should be an exercise in risk management. IMHO, we ignore the maxim to hope for the best and prepare for the worst at our very great peril. Industrial society must address the fossil fuel problem at some stage and now is definitely better than later.

I don't see the general public altering behaviour very much yet and if it takes some seriously confronting language and imagery to get people thinking urgently about the things they need to do to help, I won't criticise it. The business-as-usual lobby, however, deserve my contempt. They are selfish idiots.

Island "swallowed up" because of Global Warming claim

Will Howard, you say that, because of global warming, the "best estimate says sea-level rise over the 20th Century was 1.7 ± 0.3 mm/yr."

This article from the Climate Action blogspot says:

Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

It also says:

Dr Sugata Hazra, director of the university's School of Oceanographic Studies, says "it is only a matter of some years" before it is swallowed up too. Dr Hazra says there are now a dozen "vanishing islands" in India's part of the delta.

If you look at the map accompanying the article, you will see it divided into blue and green sectors. The blue sectors are areas of the Sundarbans island chain the authors claim were submerged since 1999. This and similar claims about the islands disappearance being the result of global warming related sea level rise recently featured on SBS World News.

Are you claiming these reports are true? Or not?

Re: Island swallowed up

C Parsons, first of all it's not clear yet whether all the observed sea-level rise of the 20th Century can be attributed to global warming, but the spatial and temporal patterns are consistent with global warming driven by infrared radiation imbalance (a fancy way of saying an enhanced "greenhouse" effect).

Events like the submergence of barrier islands, storm surges, hurricanes, etc. are such that no one event can necessarily be attributed to global warming. Islands like those you're referring to in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta can be ephemeral features on timescales of decades-to-centuries anyway, and can be affected by changes in the balance of erosion versus sediment deposition, intensity of wave energy, frequency of storm events, etc. But one factor is mean sea level, and as it rises it changes the baseline from which storm surges rise, and will increase the frequency with which low-lying coasts and islands are inundated. If the rate of sea-level rise increases it may be greater than sediment deposition, and may add to the subsidence driven by sediment compaction.

CP, I'm not "claiming" anything. You brought up the Lohachara Island story, not I. But if you're trying to predict the fates of coastal features like delta islands, a major variable is sea-level change.

Let's go fear mongering

Michael Coleman: "C Parsons, are you sure that sea levels will exhibit a linear response to global warming? If so, why?"

Well, my hunch is it's possibly more likely than a US attack on Iran, though we know what little chance there is of that happening .

And don't get me wrong, I don't for a moment imagine there won't be effects on our environment due to either global warming, if that is happening, or other effects of population growth and economic activity.

I mean, I have a more healthy regard for the observations of Dr Malthus and Mr Darwin than I would ever have for the panic merchants in the Environment movement, and Malthus and Darwin would hold it to be an absolute certainty that human activity would impact upon the environment, and not in ways likely to our long term advantage.

But the fact remains, doesn't it, that there's virtually no evidence of much if any increase in sea levels due to human economic activity, is there?

I invite you to contrast what is actually known about the environmental and other effects of global warming, and the extent to which they are attributable to human economic activity, with the kind of hysterical blather we hear about it from people like Peter Garrett, a superannuated pop singer, or Bob Brown, a country GP.

The ask yourself, what is the political and cultural function of the fears being whipped up by the so-called Environment movement?

Take this BBC report, for example?

It starts off;

"Global sea levels could rise by about 30cm during this century if current trends continue, a study warns."

"Australian researchers found that sea levels rose by 19.5cm between 1870 and 2004, with accelerated rates in the final 50 years of that period."

Oooohh, goodness. And have a look at that callout at the top right of the page:

"It means there will be increased flooding of low-lying areas when there are storm surges."

- Dr John Church.

Panic stations. Panic station. Then the story points out.

"Over the entire period from 1870 the average rate of rise was 1.44mm per year."

"Over the 20th Century it averaged 1.7mm per year; while the figure for the period since 1950 is 1.75mm per year.

That is millimetres this time, folks. Not centimetres.

But then there's this;

"Melting ice on Antarctica is a cause of sea level rise
If the acceleration continues at the current rate, the scientists warn that sea levels could rise during this century by between 28 and 34cm."

"Dr John Church, a scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation based in Tasmania and an author of the study, said that higher sea levels could have grave effects on some areas."

"It means there will be increased flooding of low-lying areas when there are storm surges," he told the Associated Press.

"It means increased coastal erosion on sandy beaches; we're going to see increased flooding on island nations."

Have you noticed how the story flips and flops from "could" to "will"?

The function of the Environment movement is to translate the "coulds" into "wills" in order to create fear and loathing for political purposes.

In the same way in the 1960s the movement grossly exaggerated the fear that pesticides were going to wipe out life as we know it on earth.

This of course turned out to be a nonsense.



Not exactly true, CP

C Parsons: "The function of the Environment movement is to translate the ‘coulds’ into ‘wills’ in order to create fear and loathing for political purposes. In the same way in the 1960s the movement grossly exaggerated the fear that pesticides were going to wipe out life as we know it on earth. This of course turned out to be a nonsense.”

Your link turns out to be a Wikipedia article about Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). From that link:

Silent Spring has made many lists of the best nonfiction books of the twentieth century. In the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Nonfiction it was at #5, and it was at #78 in the conservative National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. However, it was a "honorable mention" on conservative Human Events' "Ten Most Harmful Books of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries". Most recently, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 Greatest Science Books of All-Time by the editors of Discover Magazine [1].”

(Discover Magazine is published by Time-Warner.)

Silent Spring launched such a controversy over the use of broad-spectrum pesticides that the chemical companies producing them found themselves on the brink of a public relations disaster. They went through the now well-established stages of outright denial, followed by grudging admission that there could be something in the anti-pesticide case, followed by practical steps to change the chemistry of pesticides.

Pesticides have gone through three generations. The first was typified by lead arsenate as sprayed on fruit trees to wipe out insect pests and ingested in small but cumulative amounts by consumers. Lead and arsenic are both cumulative poisons whose toxicology is well documented and lead arsenate based horticulture was generally agreed as unsustainable. But I still use very small amounts of one first generation pesticide against termites.

The second generation was typified by DDT: halogenated organic (ie carbon) compounds. DDT is a powerful nerve poison, and its power depends on the fact that carbon-halogen bonds are pretty well unknown in nature, and thus no enzyme systems have evolved to deal with them. This also explains their longevity, and ‘Dieldrin’ from sheep dips is still in the soil on many sheep properties 50 years after its last use. Organo-phosphates, which are deadly and require careful handling, have largely replaced them.

The third generation are very narrow spectrum indeed, and are typically insect hormones. The current Australian campaign against the fire ant is having great success and is mainly based on a fire ant ‘oral contraceptive’.

The progress in pesticide development is inseparable historically from the publication of Carson’s ground-breaking and authoritative book in 1962, and it is deservedly being hailed as one of the greatest books of the 20th Century.

That the conservative Human Events magazine rated is as number 18 in its list of the most harmful books of the last 200 years is interesting. Political conservatives are conservative of existing social arrangements and privileges, not of the environment. Most went into reflexive denial on global warming and climate change in the first instance. Why this should be so is a most interesting question.


"High Confidence" in increased sea level rise.

Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3] mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003, about 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8] mm per year. Whether the faster rate for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer-term trend is unclear. There is high confidence that the rate of observed sea level rise increased from the 19th to the 20th century. The total 20th century rise is estimated to be 0.17 [0.12 to 0.22] m.
That is from page 5 of the Summary for Policymakers of the Fourth report released earlier this year (Sorry, no time to find the link, but it is in an earlier Climate Change thread.)

Note that they report a faster rate at the end of the century, and, with "high confidence", increased sea level rise from the 19th to 20th century.

Both Eyes On The Rear View Mirror

C Parsons, are you sure that sea levels will exhibit a linear response to global warming? If so, why?

Have you considered the latency of the oceans' response to increased atmospheric temperature?


Craig, thanks. But where does it say there's been an acceleration of sea level rise over the last 100 years?

Tefea te laukele?

In that particular online document - Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis - you'll find statements on an acceleration of sea level rise over the last 100 years in this section headed Mean Sea Level Changes over the Past 100 to 200 Years.

That section includes a sub-section headed Long-term mean sea level accelerations followed by a sub-section headed Mean sea level change from satellite altimeter observations

Myth and mirth

C Parsons: “The real importance of global warming is to provide a focus and moral centre for the political left...

Hmm, perhaps that's its real importance in your estimation, CP. I've seen similar tracts on this overblown theme, for instance by John Kay of the Financial Times:

Environmentalism embraces a myth of the Fall: the loss of harmony between man and nature caused by our materialistic society.

And so on - an entertaining read, whether intentionally or not.

It nevertheless seems true to some real extent that people, by and large, have a need to resolve the world's complexities into unifying myths. Sadly true also that there are any number of complete twats who want to whip up panic in order to advance their own agenda.

Recently a very slick banner was unfurled on the streets of Sydney which read: "THE WORLD NEEDS GREAT MEN LIKE - DICK CHENEY - WE LOVE AMERICA."

It's quite curious that such adulation should be elicited by a man who has been so consistently wrong, wrong, WRONG in his assessments about Iraq.

Stranger still that the Australian Government should take his latest pronouncements as somehow vindicating said Australian Government’s boneheaded position on the war.

A lesser scoundrel might simply hold his peace and busy himself on matters in which he's less likely to do such damage. Or confine his maunderings to topics more attuned with proven expertise, such as hunting etiquette. But no, not this "Great Man".

Cheney's success clearly doesn't consist in his contributions to his nation's foreign policy. So whence his continuing currency on the world stage? (Other than the aphrodysiacal qualities of power, I mean...)

I could construct an explanation of sorts along the lines of people's need for a father-leader in some mythic clash of civilisations, but I won't insult everyone's intelligence.

Yet I'm haunted still by the terrible longing in the eyes of those Young Liberal orphan waifs, holding up their sad wee banner on those Sydney streets.

Okay. Let's ask Will.

Michael Coleman: "I will listen to people like Will Howard who actually know a little bit about the subject."


Will, how fast has the rise in sea levels been over the last one hundred years? And is this accelerating?

Acceleration of sea-level rise

C Parsons: "Will, how fast has the rise in sea levels been over the last one hundred years?"

Best estimate says sea-level rise over the 20th Century was 1.7 ± 0.3 mm/yr.

"And is this accelerating?"

Yes, by  0.013 ± 0.006 mm/yr/yr. Since 1993. The measurement since 1993 is so precise because of satellite altimetry with VERY high precision and global coverage.

The "latency" Michael Coleman mentions is very important. In case of sea-level change it arises (no pun intended) from the fact that the ocean's has a huge thermal mass. The excess heat from global warming is mostly held in the upper approx. 100 meters of the ocean and this will persist for at least decades, possibly centuries even if we stopped all GHG emissions today. It is this heat which is largely (so far) responsible for the 20th -Century sea-level rise.

Behavior of large ice sheets is a bit of a "wild-card" in the system - more on that later.


Church, J and White N (2006), A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L01602, doi:10.1029/2005GL024826

Church J, White N and Arblaster J (2005) Significant decadal-scale impact of volcanic eruptions on sea level and ocean heat control. Nature 348: 74.

Just Another Conspiracy Theory

C Parsons would have us believe all of the scientists publishing peer-reviewed studies showing clear evidence of anthropogenic global warming are no more than the useful idiots of "marginal political activists".

When was the last time CP had a paper on climatology published in a respected science journal? Why would anybody think that CP's "contribution" to the debate warrants any credibility at all?

I will listen to people like Will Howard who actually know a little bit about the subject.

A little about the subject

G'day Michael,  if Will Howard goes to the source behind the source C Parsons relied on (i.e. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change material which has been partially copied into Wikipedia) then he'll find the following and much more:

Projections of components contributing to sea level change from 1990 to 2100 (this period is chosen for consistency with the IPCC Second Assessment Report), using a range of AOGCMs following the IS92a scenario (including the direct effect of sulphate aerosol emissions) give:

  • thermal expansion of 0.11 to 0.43 m, accelerating through the 21st century;
  • a glacier contribution of 0.01 to 0.23 m;
  • a Greenland contribution of –0.02 to 0.09 m;
  • an Antarctic contribution of –0.17 to 0.02 m.

Including thawing of permafrost, deposition of sediment, and the ongoing contributions from ice sheets as a result of climate change since the Last Glacial Maximum, we obtain a range of global-average sea level rise from 0.11 to 0.77 m. This range reflects systematic uncertainties in modelling.

For the 35 SRES scenarios, we project a sea level rise of 0.09 to 0.88 m for 1990 to 2100, with a central value of 0.48 m. The central value gives an average rate of 2.2 to 4.4 times the rate over the 20th century. If terrestrial storage continued at its present rates, the projections could be changed by –0.21 to +0.11 m. For an average AOGCM, the SRES scenarios give results which differ by 0.02 m or less for the first half of the 21st century. By 2100, they vary over a range amounting to about 50% of the central value. Beyond the 21st century, sea level rise will depend strongly on the emissions scenario.

[Emphasis added]

The sea is rising, the sea is rising. Oh, and the sky is falling

As we all "know", global warming is contributing to the world's sea levels rising:

The sum of components indicates an acceleration of only 0.2 (mm/yr)/century, with a range from –1.1 to +0.7 (mm/yr)/century, consistent with observational finding of no acceleration in sea level rise during the 20th Century.

A common perception is that the rate of sea level rise should have accelerated during the latter half of the 20th century, but tide gauge data for the 20th century show no significant acceleration.

However, sea level changes have not yet been implicated in any substantial environmental, humanitarian, or economic losses to small island states. Previous claims have been made that parts of the island nations of Tuvalu were "sinking" as a result of sea level rise. However, subsequent reviews have suggested that the loss of land area was the result of erosion during and following the actions of 1997 cyclones Gavin, Hina, and Keli.

The real importance of global warming is to provide a focus and moral centre for the political left after the failures of communism and socialism in the 20th century, and is a more palatable historical role for it than the other main alternative, namely as apologists to political Islam.

The Global Warming Panic takes over where the discredited "iron law of wages" and "pauperisation of the masses" and "withering away of the state" rubrics used to serve - creating a short to medium term catastrophe scenario that can be "avoided" only by following the leadership of hitherto marginal political activists.

It creates an opportunity for complete twats like Peter Garrett and Bob Brown to "stand" for something, and appear "wise" through panic mongering about the "looming crisis" that will "engulf us all".

Anyone versed in the history of the medieval Children's Crusades or the great witch hunts that gripped France and Germany in the late Middle Ages will be familiar with the process.

Shadowy scientists prescribe hope

They are scientists.

They say “there is still time to stave off the worst consequences of global warming.”

They are “from 11 countries”. They have “called for” dramatic action, “urged” strictness, and “recommended” a whole heap of stuff.

With thanks to the LA Times via the Sydney Morning Herald, this is all very heartening — if somewhat prescriptive — but who the f**k are they?

Hmm, a lead… They “were funded by the non-profit UN Foundation and the research society Sigma Xi.”

Alright then, this is about a new report, Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable, which is the final report of the Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Developmentahah! — so they were the they.

Read it and be comforted!

Vox Populi

The interesting question is why has popular perception suddenly changed? What causes such shifts in popular mood, such as bringing David Hicks home and climate change.

Are they willing to see it as a chronic problem that requires patience and long-term discipine, or are they expecting a short course of antibiotics to fix it. Does the public realise that cliamte change is not an illness, but rather a superficial symptom of a deep cancer, and how important is their deeper understanding to getting the root problem fixed?  

That G W Bush has bought

That G W Bush has bought 900000 acres in South America, over the guarana aquifer, the largest fresh water aquifer in the world, protected by a 500 strong nearby American military base, and also next door to 1 million acres owned by the reverend Moon, (overlord of "the Moonies"), evidently a good friend of Bushes senior and junior, suggests that they are not as ignorant of climate change as would be suggested by what they spiel to the public. Why would they want you or I to know about the consequences of climate change?

They're not holdouts!

John and Stephen are not holdouts! They are simply waiting for George and Dick to tell them what to do! Cheers!

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