Monday, January 31, 2005

bad news for polar bear fans

Many Arctic animals, including polar bears and some seal species, could be extinct within 20 years because of global warming, a conservation group said yesterday.

Example
a concerned polar bear, this morning.

Sorry, that was just a gratuitous excuse to show a picture of a polar bear, an animal which is really cool.

That said, I read last Friday, with a degree of surprise, a news item in the Guardian which reported on "the UK's first dedicated meeting of climate change sceptics", which was held in London last week. At it, the paper said:

"...the consistent message is that global warming will not have a catastrophic effect, and if it does there is little the world can or should do about it.

The meeting, held yesterday at the Royal Institution in London, was billed by organisers as "a valuable opportunity for debate on a topic frequently obscured by angst and alarmism". Climate change, they said, was a topic "that has been subject to widespread misrepresentation and politicisation".

Speakers included David Bellamy, the former television botanist and a special professor at the University of Nottingham; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University."

Thinking it odd that the Guardian seemed to pass up the opportunity to challenge these conceptions, my immediate response, not knowing much about the subject, was to wonder if perhaps these people weren't right after all. But Mark Lynas, writing on his blog on the same day, seems to be under no illusions. And he writes,

"This unwelcome appearance of the American far-right in London is unlikely to convince many people that all the scientists are wrong, but it may at least confuse non-experts - which is precisely what the climate change deniers intend."

And which is precisely what happened.

Reading the Guardian article back, one quote leaps out, from David King, the chief scientific adviser to the government.

"It's very important to know where these sceptics are coming from and to identify lobbyists as distinct from scientists."

Making that distinction is not always easy, however.

1 comment:

Andrew Brown said...

In terms of knowing where people come from I thought I'd remembered David Bellamy having an interesting political history. Here he is in an interview with the Guardian explaining how he came to stand for the Referendum Party in 1997:

He tells me how he got talking to a man on a train some time before the 1997 election and told him he was torn between voting for Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour party and the Referendum party. The man told him he was an agent for the Referendum party, and soon after he got an invitation to lunch from Sir James Goldsmith, its founder. "It was the most fascinating lunch I've ever had. A bloody good lunch. I said: 'Why have you suddenly become a goody after being a baddy?' And he said: 'You go into a fish restaurant and the fish are full of poison, and that's why I'm dying of pancreatic cancer.' And I said, 'Well, I don't think you can prove that.' And he said, 'No, I can't prove it, but you say some bloody stupid things too.'"More recently Bellamy's revolutionary socialism seems to have gone on the back burner and he's come out to support Tory plans to stop wind farms.