Juan Cole's Top Ten Questions for Copenhagen

Climate ChangeVia Juan Cole’s Informed Comment blog:

Top Ten Questions about Climate Change on the Eve of Copenhagen

Is the earth’s climate warming? Indisputably.

Has the pumping of vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human beings since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution contributed to global climate change? Also, indisputably.

Would extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause warming? In the absence of some sort of offset, yes. In fact, this effect can be demonstrated in a bottle.

Who funds “science” questioning carbon-dioxide-driven climate change? Exxon-Mobil, among others.

Why don’t most American senators and congressmen have the gumption of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who called climate change deniers “flat-earthers”, and “anti-science”?

Would global warming just mean it is hotter? No. If mountain ice and glaciers melt, the people who depend on seasonal melting of such highland ice will be left without a water source and thrown into drought. Over a billion people in the Indian subcontinent are at risk. And, 60% of Bangladesh is at risk from rising sea levels.

Has global warming been flat since 1998? No, this assertion depends on a stupid little trick. 1998 was unusually warm because of an El Nino, so if you take it as the baseline, you get a false picture. Take 1997 or 1999 as your starting point (normal years), and then you see the clear continuing warming trend. It would be like starting with the 2005 tsunami and saying the ocean levels have fallen mysteriously and dramatically since then in Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Are the measures proposed at Copenhagen a good first step? Not even remotely. (See also Bill McKibben at Tomdispatch.com

Would actually proving that some climate scientists have engaged in partisan activity change the above facts? No. Was that proved by the hacked emails? No.

Is is just an accident that the countries who are the biggest polluters have publics who are most skeptical of human-made climate change?

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posted by Juan Cole @ 12/07/2009 01:36:00 AM

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