For those of us that get a kick out of climate alarmism, it doesn't get any more entertaining than when hundreds of climate scientists gather in one spot for a Chicken Little pow-wow. And this week's conference on "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change," held at the U.K. Meteorological Office in Exeter, England did not disappoint.
The conference was organized by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and aimed to bolster Britain's efforts to make climate change a central issue during its Group of Eight (G8) and EU Presidencies this year. Predictably, the conferees have determined that the threats posed by global warming are worse than previously expected and that we already may be too far along to stop the looming global catastrophe. Think "The Day After Tomorrow," but slower and worse.
Here's a sampling of the 'doom-and-gloom' headlines emanating from Exeter:
- Scientists' grim climate report
- Scientists warn growing acidity of oceans will kill reefs
- Climactic threats loom over the Arctic
- Climate conference hears degree of danger
- Polar bears 'already doomed' by pollution
- Climate Warming Spells Species Wipeout, Experts Say
- African poor to bear brunt of global warming crisis
You get the point. Given the seeming level of certainty among scientists in their apocalyptic pronouncements, I was a little surprised (not!) to run into this Agence France Presse article:
- "Scientists at a global warming conference say they see potential triggers for runaway climate change but admit that when and how these notional doomsdays may be unleashed are debatable or quite unknown.
A widespread view of climate change is that the Earth's surface temperature will gently rise as more and more carbon gas is spewed out by fossil fuels, trapping heat from the Sun.
. . . .
But scientists at a conference here on global warming say there is also the risk of sudden, catastrophic, irreversible and uncontrollable climate change that could be triggered in as-yet unknown conditions.
'There's still a great deal we don't know about these rapid non-linear events,' British scientist Sir John Houghton, a leading member of the UN's top panel on global warming, said on Tuesday."
It's convenient to ignore the high level of uncertainty and the shaky scientific foundation underlying most climate science, since it doesn't advance the political agenda of Tony Blair, the IPCC, or the environmental activist community-at-large. The Financial Post's Peter Foster nails the situation perfectly:
- "Hadley [Centre, the climate change division of the U.K. Meteorological Office and site of the conference] is a blatantly political institution whose public pronouncements are obviously skewed toward alarmism. The most prominent graphic in the press centre this week was of a succession of portrayals of the Earth, colour-coded for temperature, stretching from 1890 to 2099. Things look green and dandy up to 2020, when a jaundiced yellowing sets in, followed by a reddening that pretty much winds up with a world in flames by the end of this century.
Another dead giveaway is prominent references in centre literature to that ultimate disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow. "The time scales may be unrealistic," declares Hadley's Web site, "but some of the science behind the movie is real enough." Sure. And some of the science behind Mars Attacks was real enough, too.
Hadley is also clearly biased in choosing the scariest of scenarios and then "objectively" analyzing how likely they are. Inevitably, this concentrates minds on the catastrophic outcomes rather than their statistical probability."
Read the whole thing for a dose of climate common sense. The best line in Foster's piece:
- "One of the snide allegations about those who dare to doubt the alleged "consensus" on man-made global warming is that they are in the pay of Big Oil. But why should the filthy lucre of Big Government be any less corrupting?"
UPDATE: Philip Stott at the excellent UK blog EnviroSpin Watch offers his take on the Exeter conference here. But even more interesting is his take on Tony Blair's motivations behind the hysterical conference: using the cloak of climate alarmism combined with public pressure on the Bush administration to do an end run around hard-core greens towards the end of reintroducing nuclear power and shifting focus from carbon emissions control to carbon sequestration. Both ideas are opposed by greens. If true, it's a politically shrewd strategy, though it's a shame that sound science and public discourse have to sustain damage in the process.