The leaked emails, Professor van Ypersele said, will fuel scepticism about climate change and may make agreement harder at Copenhagen. So the mutterings have prompted the question: why would Russia have an interest in scuppering the Copenhagen talks?
This time, if it was indeed the FSB behind the leak, it could be part of a ploy to delay negotiations or win further concessions for Moscow. Russia, along with the United States, was accused of delaying Kyoto, and the signals coming from Moscow recently have continued to dismay environmental activists.
When Ed Miliband, the Secreatary of State for Climate Change, visited Moscow this year, he had meetings with high-level Russian officials and pronounced them constructive. But others doubt that Russia has much desire to go green.
Up in the far northern reaches of Russia, there are stretches of hundreds of miles of boggy tundra; human settlements are few and far between. Often, the only inhabitants are indigenous reindeer herders, who in recent years have reported that their cyclical lifestyle is being affected by the climate: they have to wait until later in the year to migrate to winter camps, because the rivers do not freeze as early as they used to. In spring, the snow melts quickly and it becomes harder for reindeer to pull sleds.
Much of Russia’s vast oil and gas reserves lie in difficult-to-access areas of the far North. One school of thought is that Russia, unlike most countries, would have little to fear from global warming, because these deposits would suddenly become much easier and cheaper to access. [continued…]
The controversy over e-mails stolen from global-warming researchers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at Britain’s University of East Anglia has become so divisive that there is even disagreement over what to call it.
Skeptics of global warming, who have long considered climate change a fraud, refer to the incident as “Climategate,” with obvious intimations of scandal and cover-up. Advocates of action on warming call it “Swifthack,” a reference to the 2004 character attacks on presidential candidate Senator John Kerry by the group then known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — in other words, an invented scandal propagated by conservatives and the media that does nothing to change the scientific case for climate change. [continued…]
The denial industry, which has no interest in establishing the truth about global warming, insists that these emails, which concern three or four scientists and just one or two lines of evidence, destroy the entire canon of climate science.
Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence that could possibly be disputed – the proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents – the evidence for man-made global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop zones.
No other explanation for these shifts makes sense. Solar cycles have been out of synch with the temperature record for 40 years. The Milankovic cycle, which describes variations in the Earth’s orbit, doesn’t explain it either. But the warming trend is closely correlated with the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The impact of these gases can be demonstrated in the laboratory. To assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists. The science is not fixed – no science ever is – but it is as firm as science can be. The evidence for man-made global warming remains as strong as the evidence linking smoking to lung cancer or HIV to Aids. [continued…]
Physics has set an immutable bottom line on life as we know it on this planet. For two years now, we’ve been aware of just what that bottom line is: the NASA team headed by James Hansen gave it to us first. Any value for carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million is not compatible “with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” That bottom line won’t change: above 350 and, sooner or later, the ice caps melt, sea levels rise, hydrological cycles are thrown off kilter, and so on.
And here’s the thing: physics doesn’t just impose a bottom line, it imposes a time limit. This is like no other challenge we face because every year we don’t deal with it, it gets much, much worse, and then, at a certain point, it becomes insoluble — because, for instance, thawing permafrost in the Arctic releases so much methane into the atmosphere that we’re never able to get back into the safe zone. Even if, at that point, the U.S. Congress and the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee were to ban all cars and power plants, it would be too late. [continued…]