Saturday, November 28, 2009

Copenhagen 2: Lies, Cheats and Hopes

With the Copenhagen talks inching closer and closer, there have been several points that I think need to be discussed.

First let me start by mentioning this amazing radio show I stumbled upon called "EARTHBEAT" that is fresh and amazing. The stories actually are intriguing, informative and engaging. You can listen to podcasts of their broadcasts and read summaries of their broadcasts. They also plan to have daily dispatches from the Copenhagen talks with "the most important movers and shakers of the climate movement." They have a great podcast named Mike Tidwell about Rush Limbaugh, population control/emissions control and the 350 rally.

The 350 rally is brought about through the efforts of the 350 organization; an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand. Their goal is to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, the designated "safe" level for human existence on the planet. The rally was the largest environmental rally on earth, ever. Thousands of cell-rallies in around160 countries, all of them urging world leaders to commit to a climate treaty. An amazing accomplishment.

I next want to mention something a friend was kind enough to tell me about; this so called "Climate Gate." To begin, let me just say that if all the facts indeed are straight as presented I will say that the scientists at fault do not represent the entire scientific community. In fact, there have already been many sites to debunk this concept that these e-mails "prove" climate change is a lie."

In reading one of the excerpts of these so called damning e-mails through a lay-person's eyes it can be construed as interesting at best;

"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

When looked at from a statistician's eyes it can be seen that what he is referring to is a display method that show the significance of the data. As seen here from a Wired Magazine article;

The comment refers to Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. Mann told Wired the "Nature trick" refers to a solution for displaying data that he and others used in a paper they published to get around a problem in the way that temperature data is traditionally displayed.

The solution allows for better viewing and understanding of the data, Mann said, and pointed to a post on the RealClimate blog that his colleagues have made to explain the reference. That post also indicates that the hacker first tried to post the trove of stolen data to the RealClimate blog on Tuesday.

I truly feel that this is a "nothing" controversy, I also feel that as long as the data itself wasn't altered and just the visual reference that nothing illicit really happened. In a few weeks this should blow over and the focus again will return to Copenhagen and the crucial moment we are in.

With both the U.S. and China being indispensable to these Climate Change talks and even China, one of the largest polluters on earth, calling for real solutions we can expect interesting things. Both China and America have already made a power plays in announcing their own climate solution goals before Copenhagen and this has only fueled concerns over the actual role of Copenhagen. Leaders in the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation have declared that they believe no real solution will be reached at Copenhagen.

The actions of the President are also concerning. Obama's plan to attend and speak for American concerns has encouraged many nations of the success of the project, yet even more recent announcements are drawing concern. There is talk of postponing the conference into a two-stage multi-year process the concerning aspect is that Obama is backing this idea. Perhaps he is right, perhaps we do need more time to get things together, a slower yet more involved process. Or, perhaps slowing down the process will kill it.

I am, however, ever hopeful that these talks will lead to three key elements; an internationally agreed upon emissions cut line, an agreed upon tracking mechanism and a plan to assist developing and fragile nations to circumvent the pollutions path we walked.

Even if nothing is reached at these talks the fact that they occur will still be progress. The problem remains that it may be too slow to be useful. For now all we can do is wait and see.

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