Guest post by Thomas Fuller
Climate Central’s interview with Harold Shapiro, head of the InterAcademy Council which reviewed the IPCC, had the money quote–but it didn’t come from Shapiro, it came through him.
Shapiro reported that John Christy said, “if they do this, if they adapt both the letter and the spirit of what you’ve said, things would be a lot better. ”
One can hope.
In the spirit of assessment, we can offer a sort of ‘back to school’ look at climate change as a cultural and political phenomenon at this point. Let’s at least try.
Shapiro’s team at the IAC provided lots of meat and potatoes advice and recommendations to the IPCC on how to do its job better.
The jury’s obviously still out, but they could improve dramatically in time for their fifth assessment report. But there’s no doubt that the IPCC has been put on notice and that they understand that some of the things that got them in trouble in their 4th Assessment Report cannot be repeated. This should lead to a more centrist, consensus-driven look at the evidence.
The United States Congress is clearly not going to pass Cap and Trade. However, they are evidently not going to kneecap the EPA, which will be free to force utilities and very large emitters to reduce emissions. Also a centrist move.
Bjorn Lomborg has switched the emphasis of his message, in time to help get publicity for his new film, and is now stepping up his calls for concrete action (and concrete sums of money) to fight climate change. It’s a move back to the center for him. This time around, the heatwave in Moscow and floods in Pakistan and China were only briefly blamed on climate change, before cooler heads made it clear that at worst they served as previews of coming attractions.
And the transition between El Nino and La Nina is actually being discussed in fairly reasonable tones–this year’s heat is not being extravagantly pronounced an irrevocable tipping point, and next year’s cooling may be the reason why. We all know it’s coming, and we all know it’s La Nina, not the ultimate end of global warming.
Is there a center growing for discussion on climate change? It would be certainly nice to think so. In the blogosphere, more bloggers and commenters on the ‘skeptic’ side seem willing to preface their criticism with a frank admission that the physics of CO2 acting as a greenhouse gas is not very controversial. On the ‘warmist’ side, there are some who are beginning to examine some of the claims made in their name, and to admit that people like Steve McIntyre or Anthony Watts are not devils incarnate.
As a ‘lukewarmer’ I’ve been in the middle for a while, with some very good company, people like both Pielkes, Lucia Liljegren, and more. It’s tempting to think people are moving in our direction.
But being in the middle doesn’t automatically make us right, and some of this movement is illusory, end of summer tolerance in all probability. Joe Romm will certainly launch another tirade against the existence of Roger Pielke Jr. on this planet, and Keith Kloor will call out Michael Tobis and we’ll probably be back at each other’s throats by Labor Day.
Kind of a pity–there’s a lot we could be doing. We could be agreeing to let wind kind of rest for a couple of years and pushing for solar power to get more attention. We could be trumpeting the energy efficiency gains from LED lighting. We could be examining in closer detail the new nuclear power plant designs and the specification sheets for the new electric cars.
When the advocates for a better climate are all busy ripping each other apart (and I have been as guilty as any in this regard) the people making the decisions are a more detached lot, who may not feel the same sense of urgency.
Hard core skeptics may say that’s okay. But even they think that better technology will supplant, or at least supplement, fossil fuels as it becomes cost-effective–and most would cheer it if it came.
I read elsewhere that ‘We’ll never have a kumbaya moment. Too much bad blood.’ But the Palestinians and Israelis have just agreed to face-to-face talks. This puts some of our quarrels in perspective.
Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller