climate change

The climate contrarians have had their day

One the most useful things about securing a climate change agreement is that is clears up some uncertainties. There are some important things that we can say for sure now. Some are positive – we know that the world is united in agreeing that there’s a problem, that all are involved in fixing it, and that keeping below 1.5 degrees of warming should ultimately be our target.

Others are negative. We now know for sure that an international agreement is not going to solve the problem. Climate change will not be resolved from the top down. Most of us knew that already, but as long as a deal was being negotiated, it was a faint possibility – not a real hope, but often an excuse. That uncertainty is now cleared up. The international agreement will not get us off the hook. It will need all of us, as expected.

So here’s a little good news on whether ‘all of us’ are going to get involved or not: in Britain we’ve almost made up the losses from the last ten years of assault on climate science.

climate change happening or not

Hopefully the 2015 figure will match or surpass the 2005 figure, and then we’ll have actual progress to report. But this is good to see in itself. Just 6% of people were still holding out in 2014 – perhaps the fact that it was the hottest year on record was enough to trigger that big swing from the 2013 figures.

I don’t need to go into what happened between 2005 and 2010. I think we know that sorry story. What matters is that the trend is in the right direction. Reality is increasingly difficult to ignore. Climate obfuscation is a spent force, and we all have work to do.


      1. Yes, Reich is right – the bizarre approval ratings for Trump aren’t representative. If it were to end in a presidential run, he would drive away as many people as he attracts and he would lose. Pretty sure about that.

        Actually, I suspect he knows that too, and the worst thing for brand Trump would be losing a presidential election. He’s a businessman first and that’s too big a risk. I’ve always expected him to enjoy the constant attention for a few months and then drop out, declaring the establishment isn’t ready for him. I hope I’m right about that.

    1. I think there are a number of things. There’s the climate fatigue that followed in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth, Live Earth etc. People were a bit bored of it, and it was ripe for a backlash.

      That was then compounded by the lost energy from the failure of the Copenhagen talks, which took the wind out of the sails of the environmental movement. There was a lot of taking stock, and a gap before new ideas such as divestment started to come through.

      Ahead of the Copenhagen talks, there were of course very deliberate efforts to sabotage them, such as the leak of scientists’ emails. A lot of money was going into skeptic think tanks, climate scientists were being intimidated, and things got rather nasty for a while. There was an organised trolling campaign against this site for a couple of months.

      Unhelpfully, the cycles of the earth are such that the warming trend slowed a little, prompting talk of a ‘pause’ or the endlessly repeated misconception that the earth hadn’t warmed since 1998. It took a warmer year than 1998 to shift that, in the end.

      And of course in between 05 and 14 we have the financial crisis. In 07/08 the climate was a big deal and it felt like progress was being made. It was then completely abandoned in the panic to save the economy. I think that’s actually the biggest factor in the end, and we haven’t yet recovered the political ground that we had a decade ago – see David Cameron the husky hugger vs today’s fracking fanatic.

      Not sure I have a link or an article that covers all those various aspects, most people tend to focus on one side of it.

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