We use cookies to ensure that our site works correctly and provides you with the best experience. If you continue using our site without changing your browser settings, we'll assume that you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use and how to manage them by reading our cookies policy. Hide

Current Issue

19th February 2020
Selected Chemistry & Industry magazine issue

Select an Issue


C&I e-books

C&I e-books

C&I apps

iOS App
Android App

Climate change apathy – a barrier to progress

Posted 09/12/2010 by KatieJ

The UN climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, is almost over. But after the failure of last year’s Copenhagen summit to produce a legally binding deal, no one is setting their hopes too high. While most countries say they want to keep the global temperature rise to below 2oC above pre-industrial times, few have pledged to curb emissions by as much as will be needed to achieve that target.

According to scientists, global emissions should be around 44 Gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 equivalent in ten years time to have a good chance of keeping a global temperature rise below 2oC by 2050. But as a new UNEP report, presented at the meeting, has found, even if all the pledges made at and after Copenhagen are net in full, emissions will still hit 49 Gt CO2 equivalents. The resulting gap of 5 Gt of CO2 equivalent – an amount equivalent to the emissions of all the world’s cars, buses and trucks in 2005 – needs to be filled by greater action, according to the authors of The emissions gap report: are the Copenhagen accord pledges sufficient to limit global warming to 2 or 1.5oC?

As the meeting draws to a close, however, movement on tightening emissions reductions targets appears to be inexorably slow. There were even reports that UK energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne might fly back early to take part in the Commons vote on university tuition fees – although it was subsequently announced that he would stay on as the matter of climate change was too important.

Yet if only climate change could mobilise the type of support we are currently seeing on university fees, perhaps there would be more progress. Support for climate change in the UK, according to a Cardiff University survey of 1800 people this summer, is actually waning, with fewer people in the UK now believe in climate change than five years ago: 71%, compared with 91% in 2005. An earlier Gallup survey in the US found that more than a third of Americans don’t believe that climate change poses any threat.

Without success in Cancun, the world’s ability to tackle climate change will seem further away than ever. And as Ban Ki-Moon, head of the UN, warned at the outset of the Cancun talks: ‘The longer we delay, the more we will have to pay – environmentally, economically and in human lives.’

Cath O’Driscoll, Deputy Editor

Add your comment




  • Anonymous said:
    15/10/2013 07:04

    The poor, the lower middle worikng classes pay the majority of tax’s which are then taken away from the majority and the most needy to feed the upper classes and business elites “which are the ruling classes” with huge tax cuts and subsides for enormous profits and with upper class welfare for health and education while the majority pays for it through their tax’s, but lives without!Austerity measures or tough budget cuts are what our leaders and governments force on to the majority but never force or implement on the business elites and upper classes, in fact the upper classes and business elites get more tax cuts and benefits while the poorer and worikng classes pay for it.All leaders, politicians are customer service and sales representatives for the ruling minorities and change the laws and rules to suit their masters. That is why they will never listen to your cries and pleading as they are too scared to govern for the majority that have voted to put them there.It is the ruling classes that holds the human race back, they stop all technological advancements in global wide clean renewable cheap/free energy, education and cures for diseases as they want to maintain the slave & master society but they are only there because we the majority allow them to rule over us. All funding and research should be on fusion technologies, these technologies will give us unlimited energy and from that a new clean worldwide economical reforms could be implemented. The ruling classes will try to stop it, the politicians don’t care, so it is up to us the majority to make it happen. http://vqimnosvjf.com [url=http://ymtczxzp.com]ymtczxzp[/url] [link=http://tttzzw.com]tttzzw[/link]

  • Anonymous said:
    14/10/2013 07:34

    I think, therefore I am. One must exist in order to <a href="http://hflbrcq.com">exrcniepee</a>, and the fact you <a href="http://hflbrcq.com">exrcniepee</a> is convincing proof you exist.You probably consider yourself to be an existence', which is obviously why you call yourself I' instead of we'. But exactly what IS an existence'?Since the time of Democritus of Abdera (460-370 BC) it has been postulated the Universe is comprised of particles which though they may be profoundly minute in nature are not infinitely divisible. It is inherently logical that before the smallest non-empty set can be assembled, there must exist an individual element with which the set may be populated, a single existence that is not composed of independent parts, an irreducible physical manifestation consisting only of itself, an elemental identity I call an entity'. But so far, physicists have not been able to find the elusive entity and it is entirely possible they would not recognize one even if they could isolate it.The material objects with which we interact in our environment are composites. A chair, for example, is the label we use to conveniently describe a set of parts including a seat, legs, back and arms. If its construction is of wood, then those parts are made of sets labeled cells' which are comprised of sets labeled molecules' which are, in turn, formed by sets labeled atoms', whose protons, neutrons and electrons have been fundamentally superseded by hadron groups populated by even smaller sub-sets of quark and lepton particles and anti particles which may or may not be truly irreducable.An irreducible physical entity is an existence'. Everything comprised of those entities, from an atom to a galaxy, is a composite.You are ostensibly an existence', but your body is a composite a collection of billions of separate elements or fundamental particles, each with its own individual properties. Each basic particle pre-existed your birth and will ultimately survive your demise. Each has a unique history, a separate location and physical domain. Logically this presents a conundrum. How can you be an existence' if that manifestation which you consider to be yourself is a composite? Indeed, every existence has its own unique identity and a collection of existences will have as many separate, individual identities as there are elements in the set.The Pinocchio HypothesisTo reconcile this disparity, hordes of scholarly pundits with names swimming in alphabet soup profess that if you toss just the right combination of terrestrial ingredients into a primordial cauldron and stir it really, really hard for a very, very long time, you can produce a composite that thinks, propagates and <a href="http://hflbrcq.com">exrcniepee</a>s a single existence with an individual identity. That may sound silly (I call it the Pinocchio hypothesis), but which lowly layman in his right mind would dare contradict an entire horde of scholarly pundits, especially when they are immersed in alphabet soup. So, with an eye of newt and wing of bat, a pinch of this and a dash of that, the pundits dub this egregious departure from logic the phenomenon of emergent properties or EP and they credit it with the creation of all life on Earth. But even the most tenured of scholars aren't able to explain the specific mechanics of EP that transform a body with 8 1027 atoms into a single existence with an individual identity. In fact, there seems to be two distinct factions in the EP camp. The integration' group assures us without hesitation that some unknown power of unification melds a composite into a single identity and awareness. This faction would have us believe 8 1027 = 1. On the other hand, the emergence' group tries to convince us 8 1027 = 8 1027+1, claiming any sense of self is due to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. They expect us to believe composites can conjure up a supervening entity, a temporary ego or virtual being with its own separate awareness and identity. In their practice of this mathematical sorcery, proponents of EP are idiomatically reduced to casting the incantations integrated and emergent because abracadabra and hocus pocus are still frowned upon within the orthodox scientific community.Hogwarts! If this is science, then Harry Potter is the next Isaac Newton. If you believe you are the corporal product of emergent properties then you are claiming that you are an occurrence and not an existence. Merlin, himself, would be embarrassed by such magical thinking.So what is life?To quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character Sherlock Holmes in Chapter 6 of The Sign of Four', when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Life is no chemical accident, nor was it conjured into fruition by some benevolent and omnipotent deity. Life is simply the product of a spectrum of undiscovered entities, irreducible elements with the attribute of natural animation; animated fundamental existences that long ago began to manipulate the resources of this planet or wear the mud' so to speak. Our physical size is extremely tiny prior to our trek into life (a feature for which anyone who is, was, or ever will become pregnant can be eternally grateful), so it comes as no surprise that we haven't been able to isolate and identify that element within us that compiles and compels our corporal garb.Your body is something you wear, not something you are. It does; however, seem to be a necessary tool in order for us to function and think in human terms. By rote and repetition you have been trained since birth to think you are that thing you see in the mirror hair, eyes, nose, skin, and appendages. You have developed the self-image that your body is YOU. But your human corpse is, in fact, entirely removable demonstrably so. If you cut off an appendage, it will suddenly be over there, yet you will not lose your identity. You will probably still have feeling in a phantom limb that isn't there. Just because something was held onto your corpse by molecular bond didn't make it YOU. Your corpse is simply the remnants of that hamburger and fries you ate a few years ago, that beer you had yesterday and that delicious Cesar salad from the 1990 s. Most of the cells you wear today will be replaced by new cuisine within the next seven years or so. The brain is said to be the home of the id, yet you can remove any number of its lobes and still retain your identity; there is no specific cell in your entire corporal structure whose removal would cause you significant distress, much less destroy your sense of self.As strange as it may seem, you have no idea what you actually look like because consciousness, as we know it, only occurs when you are wrapped within your corporal shell. Even if you could strip away the blood and the bones just long enough to glimpse your true countenance, you might see nothing at all, for that fundamental element which is you may not have the property of mass. Like space, your essence may be transparent more invisible than the air you breathe.

  • Anonymous said:
    13/10/2013 04:04

    DC,I think you should do a crqtiiue of the Pearce Piece that Abdreas kindly linked us to I just posted this at NewScientist: Fred,This piece, (like your gross misrepresentation of Mojib Latif's speech at the third World Climate Conference in 2009), is riddled with errors. Not to mention clearly being sympathetic towards the skeptics and being uncritical of the nefarious actions of the people like Mosher, McIntyre and Curry. These people want the best of both worlds, they attack, slander and defame climate scientists and then at the same time expect to be treated with respect and claim to want to reconcile . This is nothing but PR campaign by the skeptics Fred, and I'm sad to see that it seems you have bought it hook-line and sinker.Some points, there were probably not 28 climate scientists at the conference. Do you consider Goddard a climate scientist? McIntyre is not a statistician by training. You misrepresented Dr. Gavin Schmidt's position on attending the conference (go to Eli Rabett's place for clarification) it seems that you did not solicit his opinion before writing this. The workshop was also financed by the Gulbenkian Foundation do some research on them Fred, they have ties to big oil.The scientific literature has shown again and again that the observed warming can not be explained by ENSO or PDO or other internal climate modes, because they simply move heat around in the system. Trenberth et al. (2002, JGR) showed that +0.06 C of the +0.4 C warming (about 15%) observed between 1950 and 1998 was attributable to trends in ENSO.These internal climate modes are internal drivers which can act to mute or enhance the underlying warming trend from higher CO2, they cannot and do not explain the fact that the planet is in a net positive energy imbalance (Murphy et al. 2009). How can the climate scientists you and the skeptics are chastising be indifferent to these internal climate modes and oscillations when they have published papers specifically to investigate their role? Please think about this the skeptics love to make unsubstantiated and unsupported claims, because they know they cannot back them up. What does count in this game of skeptics is rhetoric, innuendo and opinions, not facts.This is yet another astounding example of the media failing us. To say I am disappointed by your partisan and uncritical and error riddled piece would be a gross understatement.I would complain to your editors, but previous experience has shown me that NewScientist has no interest in acknowledging or retracting errors on the climate file, especially it seems when those errors are made by you.For what it is worth I urge you to please correct the errors pointed out to you here and to revise or retract your piece. Thank you.