The overwhelming slant of the Copenhagen climate change conference is on how to reduce the effect human beings have on the environment.
Yet there remains a diehard band of academics, some of whom are backed by big business, who insist global warming is a natural phenomena, and doubt the grim forecasts, like Australian Geologist Ian Plimer:
“Carbon dioxide is about 1/1000 of what it used to be in the atmosphere. It is quite normal for carbon dioxide to change, quite normal for sea levels to change, and quite normal for climate to change. It is absolute human arrogance to think that because we are alive we can change climate.”
Plimer’s carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere may be one from an age of higher volcanic activity, or when dinosaurs walked the Earth. It certainly is not recent. Evidence atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen exponentially since the industrial revolution is incontrovertible. But what about rising sea levels and the populations they threaten?
“You see, there are other things for these people. They say, ‘please save us’, but what happens if when they come and say that here in Copenhagen they get at the same time economic help?”, says Swedish Oceanographer Nils-Axel Mörner
A group of 150 climate researchers has gathered at Copenhagen calling itself the International Climate Science Coalition. They are not all sceptics, but have issued a very important “Copenhagen challenge” – a plea for total scientific transparency, which has, on occasion, been sadly lacking from the debate.
“The science seems to indicate that our impact on the climate is quite small and if the costs associated with these changes were quite small I could see it wouldn’t really hurt, but the trouble is we’re talking about trillions of dollars, millions of people put out of work, just based on a hypothesis, something that might be true,” says the ICSC’s executive Director Tom Harris.
Protecting planet Earth may ultimately be about other things, rearing fewer methane-emitting animals for meat, a far more dangerous greenhouse gas, preserving forests, protecting biodiversity, or preventing the collapse of the bee population without which flowered plant life could become extinct – but Copenhagen is not really tackling these issues, any one of which could doom us quicker than global warming.