In this guest post Jim Salinger (currently working in Italy, but soon to return to these shores), takes a look at the climate influences on last year’s severe New Zealand drought. It first appeared on The Conversation.
Over 2012 and 2013, parts of New Zealand experienced their worst drought in nearly 70 years. Drought is the costliest climate extreme in New Zealand; the 2012-2013 event depressed the country’s GDP by 0.7-0.9%. The drought of 1988-1989 affected 5,500 farms, pushing some farmers to the wall. But what does a climate-changed future hold?
Recent evidence confirms that New Zealand on the whole is getting dryer. And we’re beginning to understand why — increasing greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases are driving changes in the atmosphere, with impacts far beyond New Zealand.
Continue reading “Salinger: New Zealand is drying out, and here’s why”
This powerful article by Lawrence Torcello, assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, first appeared at The Conversation here. It examines the potential legal liabilities that should attach to deliberate misinformation campaigns to delay action on climate change.
The importance of clearly communicating science to the public should not be underestimated. Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death. When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.
Continue reading “Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?”
This morning my breakfast reading included a marvellous short article at The Conversation from philosopher Patrick Stokes of Deakin University in Melbourne. Stokes riffs on that familiar justification for holding a view, “I’m entitled to my opinion”, and makes some interesting observations about how it distorts public debate:
The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Given my look at the strange inexpertise of Richard Treadgold at his Climate Conversation Group last week, Stokes’ analysis seems strangely apposite. So I did a little more digging…
Continue reading “Prat watch #7.5: No, you’re not entitled to your opinion”
This article by David Schlosberg, professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney was first published earlier today at The Conversation. It’s an excellent and forthright overview of the challenges we will face in coming to terms with the reality of climate change.
When thinking of the challenges we face in responding to climate change, it is time to admit that our political focus has been fairly narrow: limiting emissions and moving beyond carbon-based energy systems. For 30 years, prevention has been the stated goal of most political efforts, from UNFCCC negotiations to the recent carbon tax.
For anyone paying attention, it is clear that such efforts have not been enough. And now we have entered a new era in the human relationship with climate change, with a variety of broad and different challenges.
The first of our current challenges is to admit that we will not stop climate change. Prevention is no longer an option. The natural systems that regulate climate on the planet are already changing, and ecosystems that support us are shifting under our feet.
We will be a climate-challenged society for the foreseeable future, immersed in a long age of adaptation. What we might have to adapt to, what an adapted society might look like, and how we design a strategy to get there are all open questions.
One of the hopeful signs is that, even if many national governments are not preventing climate change, there is a growing concern for adaptation at the local level.
Climate change challenges the whole enlightenment project – the dream that reason leads us to uncover truths, and those truths lead to human progress and improvement.
Continue reading “A challenge to the dream of reason”
Mike Hulme has added his ambiguous contribution to the climate change series on The Conversation. As per usual he’s in effect protesting that those who take the science at its face value are alienating the public. He offers an alternative to the first statement in the open letter from the scientific community which kicked off the series.
Here’s what the scientists said:
“The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes. Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.”
Here’s what Hulme offers in its place: Continue reading “Hulme: gone soft”