Copenhagen Climate Talks Kick Off amid Global Skepticism

It’s deja vu all over again!

The UN climate summit began in Copenhagen this morning, at a time when the global public has begun (again) to doubt that climate change exists and that we’re the cause.

A couple of years ago it seemed debate had finally been put to rest by the vast majority of the world’s scientists, who insisted quite convincingly that the warming was unequivocal. But it’s funny how quickly we forget.

Public belief in global warming had already been slipping even before hackers stole thousands of embarrassing emails from one of the world’s foremost climate research centers. In the most damning exchanges, scientists talked about suppressing evidence that didn’t support the warming theory and manipulating the peer review process. The scandal, which struck like a high-magnitude earthquake in November, has shaken out aftershocks ever since.

The New York Times
has just filed this curtainraiser from Copenhagen detailing the damage to diplomatic efforts getting underway today. Many had hoped the talks would lead to an international political agreement on fighting global warming but the prospects have been complicated by a new wave of climate change denial, set off (to continue the metaphor) like a tsunami by the stolen email scandal.

Italian climate scientist Antonio Navarra, who was not caught up in the scandal but knows the scientists involved, defended his colleagues at GreenAccord a couple of weeks ago by basically saying people are people. In private emails, like private conversations, people may use strong words but that doesn’t make it criminal, said Navarro, who is director the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He went on to say that proof that the climate is changing is so convincing because it does not come from a single source or institution but from many sources and research centers.

“There is no single proof that is proving climate change,” he said. “We have an enormous number of contingency facts that are creating a picture that in itself is very convincing.”

A top Obama official quoted in today’s NY Times story makes much the same case:

“There will remain after the dust settles in this controversy a very strong scientific consensus on key characteristics of the problem,” John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, told a Congressional hearing last week. “Global climate is changing in highly unusual ways compared to long experienced and expected natural variations.”

Where does that leave us this week? Trapped in deja vu all over again?

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About greendistrict

I'm Christine MacDonald, a journalist and the author of the book: "Green, Inc., An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone B

Posted on December 7, 2009, in Climate Change, Climate Deniers, sustainability and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You know, once it was announced that the debate was over and the science was settled, the world knew right then that there was something wrong. That statement was the big flag that drew attention to the science. There are only a handful of theories which enjoy the status of scientific consensus, like plate techtonics, the theory of evolution and quantum mechanics. AGW is simply not in their league. If that statement had never been uttered, the skeptics and holocaust deniers woluld never have noticed. Thank God for the idiot who thought that one up, otherwise Copenhagen would have been a runaway success. Instead it will fail, and rightly so.

    • Klem, thank you for your comment. But could you clarify your position on global warming? Do you not beleive climate change is real or is your problem with the approach negotiators are taking in Copenhagen? It’s not entirely clear from you comment.

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