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UN Climate Chief: US Carbon Cuts Could Spark 'Revolution'

by David Adam
A wind farm in California's Mojave Desert

Photograph: Sinibaldi/Getty Images

The head of the UN body charged with leading the fight againstclimate change has conceded that Barack Obama will face a "revolution" if he commits the US to the deep carbon cuts that scientists and campaigners say are needed.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said domestic political constraints made it impossible for the US president to announce ambitious short-term climate targets similar to those set by Europe. And he questioned the value of a new global climate deal without such a US pledge.

His words come as scientists at the Copenhagen conference said that modest IPCC estimates of likely sea level rise this century need to be increased. Extra melting in Greenland could drive sea levels to more than a metre higher than today by 2100, they said.

Obama has said the US will work to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Europe has pledged to cut them by 20-30% on 1990 levels by 2020. The IPCC says developed nations should aim for 25-40% cuts by then to avoid dangerous climate change.

Speaking on the fringes of a high-level scientific conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Pachauri told the Guardian: "He [Obama] is not going to say by 2020 I'm going to reduce emissions by 30%. He'll have a revolution on his hands. He has to do it step by step."

Pachauri's remarks echo those of Todd Stern, the US president's new chief climate negotiator, who said last week that it was "not possible" for the US to aim for 25-40% cuts by 2020.

Such a stance could threaten attempts to agree a new global deal to regulate carbon emissions to replace the existing Kyoto protocol, the first phase of which expires in 2012. Campaigners say a new treaty must be agreed at UN talks in Copenhagen this December.

Obama has called for 80% carbon cuts by 2050, but insiders say that such long-term pledges will do little to convince developing nations such as China to sign up to a new climate deal. British officials say meaningful US involvement in the short term is crucial to agree a new treaty.

Pachauri told the Guardian the US needed to do more in the short term. But he questioned whether there would be sufficient domestic movement for the US to agree stricter targets in December. He said it was "hard to say" if a new deal would be meaningful without such a step.

This piece originally appeared in the Climate Change section of the Guardian.

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The task is to unmask the disinformation campaign that the fossil fuel industry has been using to hookwink the public on global warming, for what it is, a crime against humanity.

A recent poll of scientists, found that of scientist in general, 80% agree with the AGW theory and the IPCC. More telling, is that it found that 97% of active climate scientists agree with AGW.

A poll of the American public had very different results. 79% of Republicans don't believe the scientists and even among Democrats only 59% believe the AGW theory. Taken together, less than half of Americans agree with it.

So we have an awful lot of people who are dumb enough to believe that they know better than the overwhelming majority of scientists and especially the far better majority of climate scientists who actually study the climate.

The massive PR campaign funded by big oil and coal is working. 12% less Republicans believe in AGW than did last year!

If you are concerned about the future, do everything you can to fight this distortion of truth and attack on science.

The good news is that we have a new administration that won't censor scientists and who won't give aid and sanction to this crime.

Posted by: frflyer on 17 Mar 09

Read this article and you'll understand what we are up against.

"Why Climate Denialists are Blind to Facts and Reason: The Role of Ideology"
by Johnny Rook

"Your adversary will deny the facts, cherry pick the scientific evidence for bits of data that, taken out of context, support his/her denialist view, or drag out long-debunked counter-arguments in the hope that they are unfamiliar to you and that you will not be able to refute them. If you succeed in countering all of his arguments he will most likely reword them and start all over again."

"The answer is simply that you are operating off of a mistaken premise. You think that the question of whether or not climate change is real and has an anthropogenic (human) cause is a question to be answered by application of an open mind, research, facts, and critical thinking. Isn't that how scientists approach these problems? They're skeptical and critique each others work, discarding ideas which fail to stand up to scrutiny by their colleagues and replacing them with ones that better describe the facts."

"Denialists, however, have no interest in facts except as weapons in an ideological struggle. They don't even care if "facts" are correct or not, since their intention is not to establish that something is true or false, but rather to win a battle in an ideological war."

"I'm not talking about people who are skeptical only because they are uninformed about the issue. Nor, am I talking about scientists who disagree with other scientists over the details of global warming."

"For conservative/libertarian ideologues who compose the overwhelming majority of denialists, Climaticide is just such a case. If a conservative/libertarian ideologue were to accept global warming as real then he/she would be forced to admit that the problem is so big and so complex that government action is required to deal with it. But for an conservative/libertarian ideologue that is impossible because he/she believes that government is the cause of ALL problems and that the solution to all problems is 'freedom'."

"Denialists frequently make this attitude explicit when they accuse the 'liberals' concerned about climate change of having invented it as an excuse to expand government. The latest version of this tactic that I've encountered is that none of the science in support of global warming need be taken seriously because it is the product of government-paid scientists who are only doing their bureaucratic masters' bidding, apparently forgetting that the current 'masters' are themselves Climaticide denialists."

"Government science is corrupt science because it's government science. 'Scientists' in the pay of the oil and gas industries on the other hand are free of this corruption because they are doing science for the capitalist heroes who defend our 'freedom'."

Someone forget to tell them that most basic research in every branch of science is at least partly govt. funded.

The media is also part of the problem even when it is well meaning.

"On the issue of climate change, journalists have consistently reported the updates from the best climate scientists in the world juxtaposed against the unsubstantiated raving of an industry-funded climate change denier - as if both are equally valid. This is not balanced journalism. It is a critical abdication of journalistic responsibility."

"The media, which in a lazy and facile attempt to provide 'balance' is willing to give any opinion equal time as long as it is firmly in contradiction with another."

"But few PR offences have been so obvious, so successful and so despicable as the attack on the scientific certainty of climate change. Few have been so coldly calculating and few have been so well documented. For example, Ross Gelbspan, in his books, The Heat is On and Boiling Point sets out the whole case, pointing fingers and naming names. PR Watch founder John Stauber has done similarly exemplary work, tracking the bogus campaigns and linking various pseudo scientists to their energy industry funders."

"This is a triumph of disinformation. It is a living proof of the success of one of the boldest and most extensive PR campaigns in history, primarily financed by the energy industry and executed by some of the best PR talent in the world."

The author of the article goes on to say.

"Read everything.
Check out the sites that deny the reality of climate change and then check on to see who paid for those opinions, read DeSmogBlog. Don't accept the word of people who pass themselves off as 'skeptics.' Be skeptical yourself. Ask yourself what motive the scientific community has to gang up and invent a phony climate crisis. Compare that to the motives that ExxonMobil or Peabody Coal might have to deny that burning fossil fuels indiscriminately could change irrevocably our existence on the planet."

Of course some media outlets spread the disinformation intentionally. The WSJ, Fox News, Lou Dobbs, The Austalian, come to mind.

For honest information on climate change, see these blogs and websites.

Climate Progress
Open Mind
New Scientist

Posted by: frflyer on 17 Mar 09

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