Climate Change Conference in Denmark concludes, but will its message get through?

Well, the Climate Change Congress (referenced here and in comments) wrapped up a little less than an hour ago.

The Guardian’s coverage can be found here: Copenhagen climate change summit 2009

Nature’s Climate Feedback blog has coverage here as well as live-twittering of the geo-engineering section. One of the posts pointed out a disturbing lack of US coverage of the event.

The New York Times’ Dot Earth chose not to provide any coverage of the event despite several requests. It did find time to do not just one but two posts and [almost forgot] a print story on industry front group Heartland’s fake-IPCC denialapalooza, a post about maple syrup, and another on a Gallup opinion poll showing growing American distrust of the medial’s portrayal of climate change as a serious problem [I can’t for the life of me imagine why! Edited to add: It should be noted that a different NYT blog, Green Inc., had one post related to the meeting on Wednesday.]

Fortunately, the Climate Change Congress has a wealth of material on its site, including links to webcasts of presentations (that, not so fortunately, only work in Internet Explorer).

[UPDATE: This Elizabeth Kolbert interview couldn’t be more timely. Key quote (as pointed out by MT):

I think that the media has contributed to the general sense of [climate change] not being an urgent problem because it’s not the lead story of the paper every day.

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a force to be reckoned with in communicating the seriousness of the issues. Her series on climate change for the New Yorker won several awards, including the AAAS award for science journalism . Her report on ocean acidification inspired a documentary. I wonder what she’d think about covering the goings on of industry-backed crank fests…]

[UPDATE: Dot Earth has now posted on the Climate Change Congress.]


4 responses to “Climate Change Conference in Denmark concludes, but will its message get through?

  1. rustneversleeps

    Gwyn Dyer has written a new book called “Climate Wars”. At the beginning of one of is interviews to promote it (on CBC if I recall), he talked about interviewing various climate scientists for the book. He said he sensed an overarching “suppressed panic” amongst them.

    I kind of sensed the same thing listening to some of the video streams from Copenhagen.

    One thing I had to laugh about (or cry about!) was Nicholas Stern’s commentary about most economic models of climate and their inadequately modelled damage functions. He pointed specifically to Bill Nordhaus’ model (I believe he is referring to the DICE model, and Nordhaus was actually an earlier presenter.)

    Stern asked the scientists in the room to guess what the economic damage (i.e. reduction in global GDP) that Nordhaus’ model predicts for an increase in global temperature of…. 19 degrees C!!!! He repeated the number, because apparently Nordhaus model actually does calculate for these kind of temperature damages. “Nineteen degrees C. One-nine.”

    The answer? GDP would decline by 50%.

    Which is, of course, ludicrous – and which was Stern’s point. Although, curiously, he laid much of the the blame for “wrong” economic models at the feet of the scientists for not having sufficiently communicated the urgency and magnitude of the risks and damages…

    He then went on to plead with the scientists to really hammer this point home. I did like his turn of phrase here, talking about BAU and 4-5C change: “This is not a Black Swan. This is not a small probability of a rather unattractive outcome. This a big probability of a devastating outcome. We have to get this across much more clearly than we have done.”

    I posted something similar at Climate Progress, but it’s likely buried way down, because I didn’t see anything directly related up front.

    Everything just seems so surreal. We just seem totally disconnected from reality. I was talking to the chief investment strategist here yesterday, a long time friend. I said he should really take a look at some of the findings coming out of Copenhagen. His response was that I was a lot more fun before I “went all green on us.” He also tipped me to the fact that they said it would be an ice age in the 1970’s and that we’ve been cooling for a decade. Sigh.

    When logic and proportion
    Have fallen sloppy dead
    And the White Knight is talking backwards
    And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
    Remember what the dormouse said;

  2. rustneversleeps “Everything just seems so surreal. We just seem totally disconnected from reality.”

    That’s my problem, too. I feel like I’m living in one reality and the large majority of everyone else is in another. We talk to one another through the walls of our bubbles. Must be what insanity is like.

  3. this is way off topic, but do you think cold war is over? the ending of the cold war was supposed to free assets to more valuable goals than producing more nuclear warheads, but was that only an illusion ? how have the military budgets of various countries developed since 1990? the Old proverb of preparing comes to mind, but i’m an optimist, in the event of war, i live long enough to take part in it (compulsory in here) ;-).

  4. Nothing I can think of can be more vital to a good enough future for the children than a global flow of ideas regarding the population dynamics of the human species on Earth. A virtual mountain of scientific knowledge supports the near-universal understanding that a finite planet with the size, composition and frangible ecology of Earth cannot be expected to much longer support an endlessly growing number of human beings worldwide, many too many of whom appear to be willfully choosing to increase in an unbridled way their conspicuous per-capita consumption and unnecessary overproduction of stuff.

    With the hope of promoting necessary discussion of the subject of global human population growth, I would like to share a recent email from one of our most respected colleagues, Dr. Gary Peters, a splendid contributor to the blogosphere.


    “Steve has mentioned the work below but I’m not sure how many of you have actually been able to look at it. It is solid and worth your time, especially if you have an interest in population growth and any variation on the idea of sustainability.


    P.S. For those who like such data, the world population now grows by close to 220,000 people per day.”

    end —

    If you will, please rigorously examine the presentation, World Food and Human Population Growth.

    Usual objections to the research of Russell Hopfenberg, Ph.D. and David Pimentel, Ph.D., have focused the human community’s attention upon “Demographic Transition Theory.” Although this theory is descriptive in character, the demographic transition theory has been widely shared, consensually validated and erroneously deployed, by many too many demographers and economists in particular, as a tool for effectively predicting the end of population growth soon and the automatic stabilization of the human population on Earth in the middle of Century XXI.

    With remarkable clarity the research of human population dynamics by Hopfenberg and Pimentel shows us that, as a predictor of the increase or decrease of absolute global human population numbers, the theory of the demographic transition is fatally flawed and directly contradicted by more adequate scientific evidence.

    While the theory of the demographic transition does offer a useful historical view of recent patterns of human population growth, its value as a tool to forecast the increase or decrease the population numbers of the human species worldwide can now be seen, in the light of new research, as fundamentally defective.

    If the human family continues choosing to keep doing precisely what we are doing now as absolute global human population numbers skyrocket toward a projected 9+ billion people, can reason or common sense possibly support the idea that future outcomes regarding human population growth will be any different either from the results we are seeing now or the results which have been occurring throughout recorded history?

    Perhaps someone will kindly explain what you think will happen that would effectively lead to the stabilization of population numbers of the human species in the year 2050, given the fully anticipated young age distribution of the global human population at that time?

    At the midpoint of the twenty-first century, what do you suppose hundreds upon hundreds of millions of fertile young people, who are expected to be capable of reproducing, will be doing with their sexual drives and instincts other than what their ancestors did for thousands of years?

    Psychologists have often commented about such circumstances in this manner: doing the same things over and over again while fully expecting that a new succession of events will somehow magically occur is an example of extreme foolishness.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

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