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Learning to accept climate change?

Posted by Richard D North in Global Warming / Green on 7 August 2008

Why we posted this: The British government seem to be softening up the public for the idea that climate change can’t be stopped. We suggest this is good sense and ought to be stated more honestly

The original stories:
Climate change catastrophe by degrees

Summary of the story:
The press widely reported and discussed the views of Bob Watson, the environment department’s chief scientific adviser and a veteran campaigner for action on climate change. His fresh message was that whilst it is important to fight for “mitigation” (that is, avoidance) of man-made climate change, we need to prepare for “adaptation” to quite severe change. In particular, we should fight to try to limit climate change to a 2 degree warming (over pre-industrial norms), but we should prepare for 4 degrees of change.   

livingissues comment:
There is very little official recognition that it is unlikely that climate change policy will be sufficiently rigorous to make a big difference. Indeed, one could argue that there is chronic denial – even dishonesty – from politicians and officials. After all, they routinely discuss their policy suggestions as though they will (a) happen and (b) “save the planet”.

It is interesting that Mark Lynas’ piece in response discusses how we “must” hold the line at 2 degrees, and even aim for zero emissions by 2050 and carbon-mopping up thereafter.

It seems far more likely that at least for a generation or so, we have to face that climate change will not be hugely dented by mitigation policies (unless energy shortages force massive uncertainty and price increases). So we’ll be adapting, not mitigating. It may not want to admit it, but DEFRA seems to be getting the message.

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