Swiftboating the Climate Scientists
George Marshall, Climate Change Denial
The theft of 1,000 private e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that deniers have learned lessons from dirty politics and are running a new campaign to undermine public trust in climate scientists. The feeble response from the UEA and the climate science community shows that scientists are still totally underestimating the fragility of that trust and the crucial role it plays in building public belief.
The Importance and fragility of Trust
The lay public, when presented with confusing data and competing arguments about climate change deploy the heuristic (a fancy word for a mentalof short cut) of believing the people they most trust. Trust in the communicator is therefore a crucial precondition for belief in climate change.
Unfortunately the three main climate change communicators: politicians, journalists and environmental campaigners, are among the least trusted people in society- fighting it out for bottom place in the ranking with lawyers and car salesmen. No one would pay any attention to them at all if they were not drawing on the aquifer of public trust in scientists.
...However, whilst it is true that there is an underlying respect for scientific expertise, there are many other more emotional and contextual components to real trust. We tend to trust people we know, who seem to be like us, who speak to our values and life experience, who appear to have integrity or- that most intangible quality- people whom we seem to like.
The Deniers have always understood this. They use language that is designed to appeal to deeper values (such as freedom, independence, progress). The narrative they tell of being determined (and even persecuted) free thinkers standing against the tide of oppressive and self-interested conformity is designed to create an aura of integrity and trustworthiness...
(22 Nov 2009)
related: The Knights Carbonic
Countdown to Copenhagen: A change in the political climate on emissions
Michael MacCarthy, The Independent
It hasn't made massive headlines in Europe; in fact it's hardly been noticed. But over the last fortnight, three big countries have made major new pledges to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide from industry, transport and deforestation which is causing climate change.
Since 12 November, Russia, South Korea and Brazil have all announced new targets for cutting CO2, leading to a significant improvement in hopes for the outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit, which is now only two weeks away – and which, it was announced yesterday, at least 65 world leaders will attend.
For the essence of the Copenhagen deal, which it is hoped will halt the progress of potentially-disastrous global warming, is that there should be emissions cuts promised by both sides, which in this case are the rich industrialised countries on the one hand, and the poorer developing countries on the other (although some of the developing nations, led by China, are now major carbon emitters themselves) – and this is exactly what has happened in the last few days.
Russia, a major developed economy, promised on 18 November to slash its emissions by 20 to 25 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, nearly doubling its previous target.
South Korea, which is still classed as a developing country but is highly industrialised, promised on 17 November to cut its emissions to four per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 – which is the first absolute cut in emissions pledged by any developing nation, and an enormous step forward.
And Brazil announced on 13 November that it would seek to make a 36 to 39 per cent cut in its "business as usual" emissions growth by 2020 – which is not a binding target, but a very promising beginning.
These are very significant straws in the wind ahead of the summit in the Danish capital, indicating that nations on both sides of the world's wealth divide are coming round to the view that doing nothing is no longer an option for anyone...
(23 Nov 2009)
Deforestation emissions should be shared between producer and consumer, argues study
Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com
Under the Kyoto Protocol the nation that produces carbon emission takes responsibility for them, but what about when the country is producing carbon-intensive goods for consumer demand beyond its borders? For example while China is now the world's highest carbon emitter, 50 percent of its growth over the last year was due to producing goods for wealthy countries like the EU and the United States which have, in a sense, outsourced their manufacturing emissions to China. A new study in Environmental Research Letters presents a possible model for making certain that both producer and consumer share responsibility for emissions in an area so far neglected by studies of this kind: deforestation and land-use change.
It's not just China that is seeing emissions rise due to demand from other nations: deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil accounts for 75 percent of that nation's emissions, but most of the products produced on deforested land, such as soy and beef, are exported to other countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
"Brazil has some of the highest emissions from deforestation in the world and its exports of both soybeans and beef have grown dramatically in the last two decades," David Zaks, lead author and graduate student at the Center for Sustainability and Global Environment (SAGE) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison told Mongabay.com.
...Zaks and his team have proposed a model to change this. According to their study when a product is exported half of the emissions should be the responsibility of the producing country and half of the importing country and its consumers.
"There is no 'right way' to proportion emissions between consumer and producer, but we did not think that assigning the burden of emissions to either Brazil OR the importing country would be logical," explains Zaks. "If emissions are assigned only to the importing country, there is a reduced incentive to decrease deforestation in the exporting country."
He adds that the study "chose to split them 50/50 as more of an illustrative example than a definitive answer."...
(19 Nov 2009)