Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Climate conference/disaster/damp squib (COP15)

Well the Copenhagen Climate Conference is over with nothing achieved. Lots of people attended and all that was achieved was a substantial contribution to 'global warming' in the form of jet fuel wasted by 150 planes travelling there from all over the world and a probably equal quantity of 'hot air' spouted by media, activists and politicians who obviously didn't know what they were talking about. So here is my summary of the event, trivia and all. If you want more, I've put it in detail here.

First of all you have to admire the timing of holding a conference on global warming during a time when people were freezing to death during the coldest snap Europe has experienced for several years. That really makes people begin to think 'Maybe a little warming wouldn't be such a bad idea'. Obviously the organisers need to take lessons from the organisers of the first international conference on global warming who held their conference during a heat wave in August 2001.

I was impressed by the impassioned plea of Leah Wickham, a Fijian who tearfully told the conference 'Fifty years from now, my children will be raising their own families. It is my hope that they will still be able to call our beautiful islands home.' I don't doubt her sincerity but since the oceans are rising at 1.8mm per year (as they have been doing for the last 12,000 years) and Fiji is a mountainous set of islands with peaks of 1,300 metres I calculate she won't need to worry for at least 70,000 years - assuming an unlimited supply of polar ice to melt. She may find it a little cramped though if all the world's ice were to melt (around 3,500 years in the future at the current rate) and the sea level rises by 70 metres. There's a web page at which will allow you to see how any area in the world would be affected.

It's estimated the conference caused an additional 40,000 tonnes of carbon (146,000 tonnes of CO2) released by the 13,000 visitors many of whom were delivered in a fleet of 1,200 gas guzzling limos. Just 5 of the limos were hybrids.

Does that 146,000 tonne figure include the carbon cost of the 40 ministers who met in Copenhagen November 16-17; the 12 who met in the Maldives 9-10 November; the 19 who met in Singapore 14-15 November; the leaders who met in Singapore on 19 Nov. or the British Commonwealth leaders who met in Trinidad with the UN Secretary-General, French and Danish presidents, to discuss the climate conference?
Rumour has it that there were plans for President Obama to ride a bicycle to the conference but that idea was squashed due to the fleet of extra cars which would be needed to surround him. They would have used even more carbon (and maybe due to the cold).

Full marks have to go to University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) for supposedly sending emails suggesting conflicting data should be suppressed and then having that email released to the media just before the conference. If ever an action could be taken to throw doubt about the IPCC and it's data sources then that was it. Of course reading the emails is one thing but understanding the context in which they were written is another. It certainly seems to me that climate scientists need to be more careful when writing emails. Funny how the investigation of this has gone quiet now.

The conference seems to have been taken seriously - at least that's the impression you would get from looking at the conference photographs. Everyone has a straight face apart from President Obama and a few others. (The last picture of smiling media services excluded)

All that effort and what did they achieve? Nothing!

Now don't get the idea that I'm a climate sceptic who thinks we can freely continue to burn fossil fuels. My personal belief is that we should take every step possible to minimise our use of fossil fuels. However I don't hold that opinion because of 'global warming'; I hold that opinion because these are precious and finite resources which we will need as chemical feedstock later rather than burning them now. As to 'Climate Warming' - well it's been going on for 12,000 years and there's not a lot we can do about it.

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