Monday, November 28, 2005

The COPs and MOPs of Climate Change

Posted by goatchurch at 4:34 AM
COP11/MOP1 (Congress of the Parties 11, Meeting of the Parties 1) of the Kyoto Protocol happens this week in Montreal. Without doubt, this is the largest international program of hard scientific speculation into the near future (the next hundred years) ever conducted in the history of the human race. Don't be distracted into thinking it's only about Climate Change. It's so much more than that.

Even if you believe that the entire hypothesis of Climate Change is a hoax, like a certain SF writer Michael Crichton, or the Exxon oil company funded PR man Myron Ebell, suspend your disbelief for a minute, like you would for a short story involving interstellar faster than light space travel with a galactic empire where everyone speaks english.

Forget about the computerized climate models that predict that a doubling of the CO2 in the atmosphere will wraught significant physical changes, and instead imagine it is a computerized model of the solar system that predicts a natural wobble in the earth's orbit will take us five million miles closer to the sun for the next hundred thousand years, as it did twenty million years ago.

That's roughly the equivalent of what is happening, and people may be able to believe the latter hypothesis more easily than the one about CO2, partly because the same Public Relations industry which has sold us the products of cigarettes and McDonaldsburgers -- long been known as guilty of inflicting long and painful illness that kill us ten or twenty years early -- has been used to fool us into the believing that credible but inconvenient hypotheses coming out of modern scientific research are not worth worrying about.

Log on to the COP website and follow the webcasts and plenary sessions that detail the implications of climate change in terms of sea level rise, mass human migration, food and water insecurity, oil wars, nuclear power and weapons, renewable energy, the reappraisal of our infrastructure, as well as the consequences of a sudden shift in the availability of cheap transport that could suddenly cut off the suburbs from the cities and supermarkets from their supply chain.

There are talks on all these matters, with a wide range of indepth speculation beyond what most SF writers hava time to research, or work out how to persuade people to believe in within the narrow confines of acceptable use in the genre. Prepare for surprises. Until now, most such futurology has been conducted by corporate advisers or strategic military planners. Their job is to sell you something. This one is by scientists. We discount it at our peril.


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