Showing posts with label consensus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label consensus. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Calling a spade a spade

Italians will romance you, Americans will sell you, but Australians are more blunt, they are inclined to tell it like it is. They'll call a spade a spade, not a a digging tool or cultivation implement or even a blunt instrument.

In Australia this week, scientists at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Queensland, are telling it like it is. And it isn't pretty.

It's not the decaying coral reefs that aren't pretty, though they aren't, it is the blindness and inertia of political leaders that isn't pretty.

Professor Stephen Palumbi, from Stanford University, pushes back against the view that scientists have failed to communicate the reality of climate change and its likely consequences.
Scientists have done all they can to describe the severity of the problem and the solutions now rest with political leaders.

To add oomph to the message, the Symposium presented a Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs that outlines the core facts and is signed by more than 2500 scientists. The statement was drafted by a group of eminent scientists under the auspices of the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) at Stanford University in California.
The international Coral Reef Science Community calls on all governments to ensure the future of coral reefs, through global action to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and via improved local protection of coral reefs. Coral reefs are important ecosystems of ecological, economic and cultural value yet they are in decline worldwide due to human activities. Land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation, overfishing and climate change are the major threats, and all of them are expected to increase in severity.

What more can climate scientists do and say? They conduct the research and publish the facts. Their institutions have prominent websites about climate change (CSIRO, BOM, PIK, Met Office, NASA, NOAA, and more) and individual scientists have published books, websites and blogs aimed at general audiences. You'll find some of these resources listed on this blog on the Take Action tab and the Book/Film/Creative tab.

Let's stop pretending that political failure to act is the fault of scientists. It's not. It's the fault of politicians who choose not to know, choose not to lead, choose not to educate their constituencies. 

By the way, Australians are not the only people who speak bluntly. The hardy folk from Yorkshire and Durham, people like my Grandma Blanche, have it in spades! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trouser fashions

Climate change deniers hope that the current scientific consensus is a fad that will pass in time. They hope to obstruct action long enough for the scientific consensus to change. 

Scientists, on the other hand, point out that every passing year adds more evidence that the planet is warming and the consequences will be catastrophic. They point to warnings made in the 1960s by scientists who probably wore bell bottom trousers. The scientists no longer wear bell bottoms, but their science has stood the test of time and become more robust.

Today, every national government and every national science academy in the world accept the evidence for climate change and the role of human activity causing it. For example, the American Physical Society (the association for physicists) says:
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

Every few months we hear announcements about impacts like record breaking heat in the U.S. and record-breaking rain in Australia where 2010-2011 was the wettest two-year period on record. So it's good that we also see regular reports of actions to reduce carbon emissions, like the recent announcements from South Korea and Mexico for carbon pricing that will help their economies move away from polluting fossil fuels.

What do forward-looking fashionistas see in this situation?
  • NASA says "Bright is the New Black" in this report about roof tops in New York city.
The dark, sunlight-absorbing surfaces of some New York City roofs reached 170 degrees Fahrenheit on July 22, 2011, a day that set a city record for electricity usage during the peak of a heat wave. But in the largest discrepancy of that day, a white roofing material was measured at about 42 degrees cooler. The white roof being tested was a low-cost covering promoted as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.
Companies that voluntarily issue press releases disclosing their carbon emission information see their stock prices rise significantly in the following days.
  • The National Wildlife Federation observes that species that depend on camouflage to blend in with snow in the winter face unique threats from climate change. Are they fashion victims or climate change victims?
…Winter is becoming less white: The extent of snow cover across the Northern Hemisphere has decreased by approximately 3 to 9 percent since 1978, with especially rapid declines in the western United States. Climatologists expect these trends to continue, and they project that by the end of the century, parts of the Northeast will lose as many as half of their snow-covered days each year.
And what is the fahion industry doing in response to climate change?
  • Industry observers note  an increase in lighter weight clothing for warmer temperatures, and more 'cruise' collections. Harriet Quick, fashion features editor of Vogue says, "It's climate-related. You can now buy lighter things all year round."
  • Designers are working with activist organisations to promote responsible action. 
Vivienne Westwood is working with the Environmental Justice Foundation to support their No Place Like Home campaign, which is raising awareness for the plight of people who have been forced from their homes due to climate change.
  • And then there is Eco-fashion, the trend towards sustainable lifestyle products that encompasses fair trade, organic, vegan, recycled, vintage and ethically produced products. It's a trend supported by thousands of small-scale producers as well as high profile fashionistas like Stella McCartney.
While climate change is driving some fashion trends, the enduring impact of unmitigated global warming is an underlying constant. Climate change is not a passing fashion, like bell bottom trousers, instead it is the new black – here to stay.