18.104.22.168 Controversy over Responses to Climate Change
(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents. An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/3571.htm)
An Economist briefing, Global warming 101, reviewed the scientific data on “The past, present and future of climate change” – which included findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The briefing listed some of the factors which had allowed doubt on the subject to persist for so long, and came to the conclusion that:
“These complexities meant that, for a time, there was doubt about greenhouse warming, which the fossil-fuel lobby deliberately fostered. There is no legitimate doubt today. …The effects of industry are not statistically significant until the 1980s. Now they are indisputable.”
There are still people who contest the scientific evidence and who regard the warnings as politically motivated. One such example is an article in Conservativenewsandviews.com: Globalist Climate Candidate Michael Bloomberg and the Humanitarian Hoax of Climate Change. The article describes the objective of this “hoax” as “globalized socialism where the assets of productive nations are transferred to non-productive nations”; it tries to discredit all the scientists working on climate change. As described later (6.7.5), the political controversy continues despite the overwhelming scientific evidence.
Climate change has a unique potential for massive social and economic disruption. In economic terms, it is unquantifiable but so great that prudence requires it to be taken very seriously – yet the Copenhagen Consensus attempted to rank it among other economic priorities and argued that it was less important than many other issues, such as free trade and health programmes, in its summary report: The Smartest Targets For The World 2016-2030.
The economic fallacy in the Copenhagen Consensus thinking is that it fails to take into account the possibility of a ‘tipping point’ – where gradual increases in global temperature start to release stored carbon in the earth’s crust, which would further increase the rate of global warming and lead to a runaway surge in temperature. As noted in the Economist article referred to above:
“The last time the Earth had a carbon-dioxide level similar to today’s, it was on average about 3°C warmer. Greenland’s hills were green. Parts of Antarctica were fringed with forest. The water now frozen over those landscapes was in the oceans, providing sea levels 20 metres higher than today’s.”
The economic controversy on climate change should not be about whether or not to take action, but how best to take it – as described in the following sub-sections.