18 November, 2007
Can one write something new about the latest synthesis report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Not really.
Not only is it just repeating what was in the three earlier reports this year (although maybe with a bit more political courage), but what it confirms is already known for years (although some still need convincing because they have so much to lose):
- that we have been playing Russian roulette with our planet’s atmosphere by over-exploiting within the last 150 years the abundant natural capital this planet has put at our (and other species’) disposal;
- that Gaia is now starting “its revenge” (Lovelock);
- that the scientific community (because of its inherent conservatism) is still underestimating the speed and effects of global warming;
- that our Western way of life is not transposable to the whole world, meaning either we can learn to live with less so that others can have more, or we cynically prevent others (by force?) from reaching our levels of material abundance;
- that national interests and shortsightedness are the biggest barrier to the kind of unseen international cooperation that would be needed to tackle this global crisis;
- that the political elites are still chained by their myopic (and nearly religious) belief in an unsustainable economic growth model;
- that the business elites are slowly waking up to the dangers of this climate chaos, but are reluctant to shoulder the burden alone and that less enlightened economic players just close their eyes and whistle in the dark, in the hope that it was all just a bad dream;
- that consumers in the developed world still believe the age of abundance with an ever-growing material cake is never going to end;
- that citizens in the new emerging superpowers are being seduced by the pied piper of Western consumption.
So, when we look back 100 years from now to the four different IPCC reports published this year, how will history evaluate them? Or better still: will history remember them at all?
- IPCC: Summary for Policy Makers – draft 16 November 2007
- Climate Progress: Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly
- The Times: UN unveils full danger of climate change