Global Warming? Climate Change? Climate Destabilisation? Tickell's The Man With The Answers
There is a long and rickety bridge between the world of science on one side and that of public understanding and policymaking on the other. The science is usually far ahead of the politics. But during the past 40 years a series of meetings, reports and conferences have changed attitudes towards climate change or, as I prefer to call it, climate destabilisation.
There is an obvious distinction between natural change over thousands or millions of years, and human-driven change, which is new. The latter is not now in serious doubt: the only question is by how much. As has been widely pointed out, the increase in greenhouse gases is likely to lead to accelerated warming of the Earth, probably by at least 3C by the end of this century. For humans, the likely consequences reach far and wide.
We now come to the crossing of the bridge. Scientists work on different degrees of uncertainty; they have to cope with phoney science and face difficulties in converting the language of science into the language of politics. By contrast, politicians usually operate short term within the election cycle. They want black-and-white answers, not shades of probability.
Failures of understanding between the two worlds are compounded by wobbles in public opinion, such as after the “climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia. There is also a natural reluctance, particularly in an economic downturn, to accept changes that might cause pain to present generations in order to avoid greater pain to future ones.
Still, the greening of politics continues. This is shown by the broad acceptance by all British political parties of the need for action, and by the creation of a committee on climate change with real powers.
And so on.
"There is an obvious distinction between natural change over thousands or millions of years, and human-driven change, which is new. The latter is not now in serious doubt."
So obvious only a fool would ask for proof. Can't you peasants see how wonderful the Emperor's new clothes are, and how important Grandees such as Moi are and how important it is that you let us tell you what to do?