This is a guest post by Gus Van Harten, professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and author of Sold Down the Yangtze: Canada's Lopsided Investment Deal with China. This post originally...
climate denial industry
In a fact-bashing roundup, one of Australia's biggest newspapers has embarrassed itself in delighted support of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate conference held there last week.The Australian announced in this Editorial that climate change isn't proven; and that, if it is proven, it's too expensive to address by seeking an agreeable global mandate.
Watch the skeptics hop all over this one!
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany recently published findings indicating that plants are responsible for between 10 and 30 percent of the methane found in the atmosphere.
Methane is a major greenhouse gas. Far more powerful than carbon dioxide, it traps in more heat per molecule. The good news is that methane generally settles out within a matter of months - while CO2 stays up in the atmosphere for about 100 years.
We at www.desmogblog.com have, perhaps, been a bit careless in villifying “the energy industry” and its role in sowing confusion in the debate over climate change.
In truth, the industry is anything but unanimous in its views on this matter. And far from deserving to be tarred with a stinky brush, good performers like BP Global, Royal Dutch Shell and, in Canada, Suncor, should get some credit.
J. Alan Pounds and 13 co-authors recently published a piece in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Nature, which concluded that global warming has likely caused the extinction of nearly 70 per cent of amphibian species in a mountainous region area of Central and South America. Pounds, an eminently respected researcher, heads up a conservation biology laboratory in Costa Rica.
His team concluded that the spread of the fungus that killed the frogs was due to global warming. Their conclusion is based on their finding that patterns of fungus outbreaks and extinctions in widely dispersed patches of habitat were synchronized in a way that could not be explained by chance or by local variations in weather conditions.
Credit first to Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail, who in a Vancouver weather story on Jan. 10, 2006 offered this “old joke.”
A newcomer to Vancouver arrives and it's raining. He gets up the next day and it's still raining. It rains the day after that and the day after that. He goes for lunch five days later and it's still pouring. He sees a young boy walking down the street, and he says, “Does it every stop raining here?”
The article was a prescription for inaction, a recommendation that we should all throw our hands up in despair over our inability to understand or affect climate change.
It was also irresponsible journalism of the worst sort.
Google Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate and you will find a host of stories lauding a new international group nominally dedicated to reducing climate change by developing new technology.
Great, you say.
But, if you read very far into the material, you will find an international industrial spin project - a blatant effort to distract the public from the Kyoto process and to justify huge increases in the production and consumption of fossil fuels, especially coal.
The New Yorker contributor Elizabeth Kolbert, whose three-part series was the smartest and scariest thing written about climate change in 2005, has started 2006 with another installment, an article entitled “Butterfly Lessons” (which, woefully, the magazine has failed to make available online).
Kolbert follows a trail of butterflies, mosquitoes and frogs to show how much our climate has changed already and how dramatic the coming change may yet be. Her writing style is brisk and informative, devoid of hysterical language but filled with anxiety inducing facts. She also allows herself the odd twist, just to keep you alert (and entertained).