Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Signs of pending apocalypse

There's a sporting magazine I only ever read at the doctor's office which has as a recurring item a section on signs that the apocalypse is pending. Consistent with their theme, and courtesy of some links from Icecap, here are three signs that predictions of an impending apocalypse from global warming may be a little premature:

  • contrary to many media reports, data are indicating that snowfall accumulation has doubled in Antarctica since 1850
  • global warming seems to have by-passed India this year, with record cold temperatures leading to widespread deaths, and
  • the true character of climate concern has been revealed in the US by the recognition (confirmation?) that lawyers are the world's best-paid "environmentalists", with 20 of the nation's largest law firms starting practices to advise companies on climate change...attorneys help clients finance clean-energy projects and lobby Congress.
A fourth sign was an ad I saw in an academic bulletin for a position at a Canadian university for an endowed Chair in Climate Change and Conflict.
Taken in conjunction, these snippets appear to confirm these iron laws of human behaviour:
  • you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish
  • the less you know about something, the easier it looks, and
  • if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
Back in the 1970s and 80s the big push in environmentalism was waste management, especially hazardous waste. Much legislation was passed in response to lots of studies, activism, fear and several Hollywood movies about fear, villains and heroes. Over $600 billion later the post-mortem reveals that some localised situations were cleaned up, the majority of situations were of questionable risk and even less priority, and the overwhelming majority of the money was dispersed in legal fees and consultants.
So tell me again, how do carbon credits work again and just what physical difference they make?