Monday, September 21, 2009

Entering the Lion's Den

As I think this may be important, I have entered a PMWNCC debate..

Sober exit from the ozone party

Just when I was getting worried about climate change we now learn that the climate may even fail.

So they are no more qualified to comment on climate than Kevin from Rotherham.

Careful, there may be a pre-eminent Professor of climate stuff out there, first name Kevin, who is from Rotherham. Then by the law of association and 'wot u sed', that means others will then become 'qualified'.

Honestly, I am unsure what 'qualifications' one needs to be 'qualified' to comment on climate change, especially with the anthro kicker that is sometimes added.

I wish there was, because a lot of servers worldwide might get less heated (along with what they shuffle through), if things were/could be a bit more definitive. But, sadly, as we are dealing with the future, short of hiring Dr. Who to the Met Office, things seem unlikely to be ever much improved on the guarantee front, prediction wise. And so much, like flying a B2, seems to be in the realms of super-computers that can defy the more linear logic of the human brain, even a trained science or engineering one. Which can prove an issue of trust, relying on what some (possibly) fallible folk have put in a whizzy box to chew on, and it, GIGOesquely, pops out for those same folk to 'interpret'. Often, it seems, depending on what they want to see.

Which brings me to your other point, which I have indeed seen raised elsewhere.

At risk of being labelled an 'ist' of some tribal extreme, when I merely admit to not knowing for sure yet, but am still keen to find out more, may I pose what I hope (perhaps in vain) a question that more informed... perhaps better 'qualified' minds can explain. Links can help, but just saying 'this chap reckons it's so and she's got a few letters after her name so it must be' is not often the best deal sealer, these days, at least for me.


Key to many 'measures' being discussed, is that 'man' is still doing his darndest to heat the place up and up, and that is the only issue. Hence it seems a bit odd to concede (is it? Or is that just some, and their findings are being pounced upon out of context?... though as Mr. Mandelson has shown of late, that spin is a dodgy one to try for painting black as white)* that all these efforts are being outweighed by another, cooling effect, albeit deemed a 'pause'.

As our race is not, yet, mitigating our efforts in any meaningful way, what then is powerful enough to go from complementing to now reversing our damaging efforts, and how can some be so precise in identifying when that effect will flip again?

For the absence of doubt, I am just asking. Shrieking denier without explanation might not help me understand, though I do concede that this direction might not help the anthro-pessimistic advocacy argument. Unless there is a good reason, which I am more than happy to have explained.

There are some fine minds out there, if from different... um, directions... so I hope what I think is a fair, if possibly naive question (if so, please say so, but just saying 'it's too complicated for you to understand' is Jana Bennett territory) might be contributed to in an informative and persuasive manner.

It will be interesting to see how what I hope is a measured contribution gets handled but what I fear, from experience, two tribes only interested in going to war over words.

In which case I will go back to just not wasting, seeking better efficiencies, and checking the enviROI before leaping to any 'green has to be good' conclusions.

*Addendum - BBC Today - Global temperatures 'could cool'

Just love the journalistic, ratings-hungry conceit of lobbing a 'could', extreme headline up front (or simply say 'is' out loud), with a more cautious 'so says' qualifier in the tail. Helpful?

By way of a possible answer to my question, there was a mention/discussion (if between two folk of possibly less science-based heft than the leading climate modeler quoted) to 'cyclical changes in the Atlantic', which was more tantalising than overwhelming.

What was less than inspiring was the other 70% of the exchange, which seemed more concerned about how it 'might look' from such as Jon 'I just interpret events' Humphrys, ending with a word from his oppo that I usually crank an eyebrow at: narrative. As in 'enhancing' it?

Yes, truths can be inconvenient, but as another noted BBC global warming (are we headed back to this? I gather man-made is off the menu, but from hearing these two chaps chat even climate change is optional) reporter
found a while ago, being too willing to allow them to emerge without much journalistic rigour can erode trust in ability and objectivity.

Addendum - I have been... am enjoying the discussion, but wonder where it is going (especially as I see the whole 'tis/'t'isn't big picture and hence personal stuff creeping in, which means it may be time for me to retire gracefully and leave it to those who see profit in such exchanges).

Yes, I pen.. key... 'lots', but I fear I do not have the time to write shorter pieces.

Especially as, ironically, in many ways, it looks as if things are coming full circle. As we now seem at a point where it has swung to matters of degree of the MM in MMGW (I have always favoured the less snappy, though in the circumstances possibly more helpful term: 'Probably man-worsened negative climate change').

Because now we need to glance at other, tricky waters, namely who said (claimed) what, and when. And especially with what deadlines. It may well be that we are in a phase of geo-climatic trending, where graphs can indeed peak and trough over decades. However, the contribution of man is what is being talked about (with a lot riding on it), and data cited in support of this, and that seems hard to marry with many claims made to date, and requiring faith to ignore when they prove exaggerated. Especially when we have an awful lot being pinned on some goalposts that are already moving, yet some who see themselves at the vanguard still cannot resist deadlines that may again disappoint, in matters of months (albeit 100, or 8 years). This, in light of the topic of discussion, seems foolhardy.

And this again leads me to wonder about the abilities and competencies of the messengers who think they are doing a bang up job in bringing the message in a comprehensive and persuasive form to the people. And I am not sure having hissy fits, stamping feet and muttering darkly about 'impositions' as some 'know better' is quite going to cut it, at least in free press democracies, and may well end in tears.

Not looking great, as it is fairly clear these 'chosen ones' are not about to step down, much less shut up (or at least get sensible). Too much ego, and money at stake. Ironically, something that has been and is lobbed around at those (foolishly in my view) addicted to the finite, last legs resource that is oil. And speaking of goalposts, it seems to me that the more extreme advocates from that end of the 'climate change' debate are being handed open ones too often by those who in theory are seeking to promote convincing solutions to real problems, but are spending a tad too much on ensuring their way is followed no matter what.

So no, I am not convinced, yet, that global warming is man made. Totally. Or even to the level that seems to get you labelled a 'denier', albeit illogically and without foundation, for not being fully with 'the team'. Or that, in the absence of dealing with bigger ticket items (such as deforestation or population), beyond sensible preventions of waste and improvements in efficiency, we might not be better advised to direct our efforts more to coping as opposed to totally trying to avoid, as all eggs in that basket is currently a leap of faith I find hard to justify on the 'evidence' so far.

I have called it 'Survival of the Selfish', and it seems to be being practiced a fair bit already. Even closer to home, especially by those in the steering house of our analogous ship, who seem to feel their use of the helicopter to whizz about (I am sure it is hard to resist an invitation to stand on an ice floe if you are a pol or a reporter, but when you are on TV, how it looks goes beyond the screen) is OK, unaware that those in the decks below can't quite see the distinction between the impositions of and on their jobs and lifestyles, and those of the ones usually funding them but told to stay put and deal with less.

I may well be wrong. But as an old client once, crushingly, advised me during a presentation: 'No, I have not failed to understand. The problem is that you have so far failed to persuade me'.

Thank heavens for our relationship, and the future of that account, we were both big enough to understand and hence work further on all that was inherent in that 'so far'.

Addendum - This is an interesting, ongoing series, so i won't put my added comments in to waste space. Best part is, with a few minor exceptions, it is being conducted in a civilised manner. So far. I do however have my suspicions that some contributing might not be as free of agenda, or indeed informed experience, as they might claim or their nicknames suggest.

FT - Emissions fall in 2008: and not entirely because of the recession

Guardian - Will the UN climate change summit lead to a deal? - A good comment early on about population and deforestation needing to be in and/or higher. Plus the value of certain polls.

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