Saturday, January 27, 2007

More on Climate Change

Ahead of the IPCC report there will be an increase in the amount of media attention devoted to climate change in the coming weeks. In contrast to the inflammatory remarks of the IPCC itself (see my earlier post) two recent commentaries offer excellent summations for expert and lay person alike. The first is by Wente and seeks to separate fact from fiction, fears from alternatives. The second is by Emanuel, and it presents a good primer on climate physics, what is known, where the uncertainties come into play, why the science is unclear and what facts are generally agreed upon and where there is a tendency for dogma to emphasize differences.

If all climate debate was as balanced and reasoned as these two articles there might actually be constructive debate that develops reasonable policy options that stand a chance of actually being implemented. Hopefully, the reporting in the next few weeks is in the same vein: at least today there are more and more people calling for a third, more moderate option on climate free of dogma and ideology.

But wait a minute: Wente's article is part of a larger series within the Globe and Mail selling the environment as the new No.1 policy concern of all Canadians: which also so happens to be the new No.1 avowed policy concern of the new leader of the Liberal party in Canada -- the paper's party of choice: so is their reporting really neutral or an attempt to frame policy debate ahead of an upcoming election? (The Liberal party in Canada having a nasty tendency to promise certain policies prior to an election, in order to get elected, only to abandon those policies immediately after election).

And if that's not enough, Emanuel still presents the discredited hockey stick as factually accurate and his soft sell of consensus is smooth but does mask a lot of areas of legitimate dispute and discrepancy.

So, the tune is sweeter but not yet entirely free of ideology and marketing. And, sadly, the nuances of the message appear to be being buried deeper even within those comments that claim to be revealing them.

So better: but not yet good enough.