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Politicians, economists and the reality of climate change

Politicians, economists and the reality of climate change

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Published by Ian Bertram
Political manouvering is hindering our response to the problems we face in responding to climate change.
Political manouvering is hindering our response to the problems we face in responding to climate change.

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Published by: Ian Bertram on May 16, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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I’ve finally got round to seeing ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. It is a fairly routineadventure story, topped off with great effects and lots of heroic ‘derring-do’. Thenut jobs who complained about it aspropagandafor the climate change lobby clearly need to get out more, because in the end the science in the film is there only to serveas a trigger for the action.Some political points were made of course but they were nothing to do with climatechange – I’m sure the irony of millions of illegal immigrants heading
over theRio Grande into Mexico was not lost on US audiences for example. In the endthough, to use the fact that a filmmaker takes liberties with the science of climatechange for dramatic effect, as an argument against the reality is to say the leastbizarre. I suspect that those who are still trying to deny what is going would be doingso in letters written in green ink if they didn’t have access to e-mail.I don’t see such concern for scientific rigour in other films. As I've said before- how many buses can leap across 30 foot gaps in the roadway (Speed), how likely is it thata virus could be uploaded to a computer you've never seen, built using technologyyou have no idea about (Independence Day), how likely is it that you could clone areplica Hitler to take over the world (The Boys from Brazil) how likely is any of theaction in any James Bond movie? And as for The Stepford Wives! Its one thing tocriticise a move because it is badly written but really people - get a life!The latest report from the IPCCseems to have finally demonstrated the reality of  climate change and what we face over the next 100 years. The projections arefrightening:Probable temperature rise between 1.8C and 4C
Possible temperature rise between 1.1C and 6.4C
Sea level most likely to rise by 28-43cm
Arctic summer sea ice disappears in second half of centuryIncrease in heatwaves very likelyIncrease in tropical storm intensity likelyThese predictions exclude areas of really tentative science. For example, there is noconsensus about the effect of melting polar ice on currents like the Gulf Stream or about the speed with which it would happen. Because they have been excluded it ispossible that the impact on sea levels would be much greater, while the impact ontemperature is also uncertain. The scenario in The Day After Tomorrow is still one of the possibilities if rather more remote than once thought.There are those scientific ignoramuses (ignorami?) who would argue that theseuncertain impactsshould have been included, thus widening the range of error.There are even more stupid people who decry the fact that scientists revise their views. Takethisfor example:
On July 24, 1974 Time Magazine published an article entitled "Another Ice Age?" Here's the first paragraph:"As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time,when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades.The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be theharbinger of another ice age." 

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