Here’s a must read, or at least must forward, article on climate change from the New York Times: A Scientist, His Work and a Climate Reckoning. Basically it’s a long review of what we know about climate change, how long we’ve known it, and what we can do about it at this point. It also covers the way that climate change deniers work to undermine things that are generally accepted basic scientific facts. The thing that really stood out to me is that the basic mechanism of climate change and the expected results have been well known since the 1960s. Deniers like to say that in the 70’s alarmists worried about global cooling, but the truth is that climate scientists have understood climate change perfectly well.
Ed Gerck has a really provocative post on Dave Farber’s Interesting People mailing list on the failure of the Copenhagen conference on global warming to produce an agreement that would eventually become legally binding. (The best rundown of the Copenhagen summit comes from BBC environment reporter Roger Harrabin.) In it he argues that had countries tried to come together and hammer out a legally binding agreement on the creation of the Internet, there wouldn’t be an Internet. Perhaps an understanding among countries that they will work together will lead to more substantive progress than a treaty that most countries will refuse to ratify anyway.
Of course, the problem is that there was a lot of interest in developing the Internet for economic reasons, and we haven’t seen technical breakthroughs that offer similar returns for fighting climate change. Right now countries see what they have to give up (coal-fired power plants, for one) and the short term costs of taking strong action to fight climate change expose any leader to political risk that they probably won’t find acceptable. But given that reality, a binding legal requirement was never in the cards anyway.
Information is Beautiful: Climate Change Deniers vs The Consensus.
I researched this subject in a very particular way. I deliberately chose not speak directly to any climate experts or leading scientists in the field. I used only publicly available web sources.
Why? Because I wanted to simulate what it’s like for people trying to learn about climate change online.