Wednesday, January 23, 2013

IPCC's John Houghton: "...the summary *for* policy makers became the summary *of* the policy makers: it was their document – they owned it!"

IES - Institute for Environment and Sustainability - News
Contributors: Sir John Houghton, Paul Crutzen, Anton Eliassen, John Schellnhuber, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, James Hansen, Mario Molina and C.S. Kiang

IES scientist and Head of the Climate Risk Management Unit of the IES, Frank Raes, has recently published a book of conversations that he held over the past few years with leading thinkers in the area of air and climate.
The book can be downloaded in digital format from the JRC Internet website:
Air & Climate – Conversations about Molecules and Planets, with Humans in between. [6 Meg PDF]
From the PDF above:
[Raes] In early 2009 some hundred climate scientists met in Hawaii to discuss the possible content of the next assessment report of the IPCC. There was a slight sense of euphoria at that meeting...The feeling was that another Nobel Prize was within reach. After all, there were still the prizes for Physics and for Chemistry to win.

[Sir John Houghton] The IPCC reports were written by scientists who were experts in their field. The summary of these reports was meant for policy makers. To get the language right we would work with former scientists who had moved into government...But more importantly, the summary for policy makers became the summary of the policy makers: it was their document – they owned it!

Money has been steadily flowing from the poor to the rich. And it is the poor in the world who will be disproportionately disadvantaged by the impacts of human-induced climate change. If we want to help the poor in tackling climate change and help them with other related issues such as food production, clean water, etc., that flow of money will have to be reversed.

[Paul Crutzen] Whatever the outcome, I believe we will have to live differently. With countries worldwide striving to attain the ‘American Way of Life,’ citizens of the West should pioneer a modest, renewable, mindful, and less materialistic lifestyle.

[Schellnhuber] The moral issue goes as follows: if you brought your child to the school bus, and the driver said there was a 50% chance of an accident because something was wrong with the engine, nothing on Earth would make you put your child onto that bus. Climate change undoubtedly creates, with more than 50% probability, the risk of destroying the life of some child in some region that is heavily hit by anthropogenic warming at the other side of the planet – the life of a child who is not even born yet and who you will never get to know. Acting to save that anonymous life is a really tough test for our moral standards, even if you believe every word of what science says about climate disruption.

I just organised a Nobel Laureates Symposium in London, where one ‘Nobel man’ stated that the global climate change problem can only be solved by global governance. He can afford to say so. If a post-doctoral student were to say this, everybody would laugh; it would be called hyperbolic or naïve...With unabated climate change, our civilised institutions, trying to maintain a fair and just world, may simply collapse. And that means ‘losing everything’ in my view...The tragedy is that the end of the world as we know it may actually not be that far away.

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