Presented to the world just before the all-important UN climate change conference in Copenhagen was set to start in December, the e-mails to and from a British university were like a gift to global warming sceptics who didn’t believe, or didn’t want to believe, that humankind’s addiction to burning fossil fuels had the potential to destroy the very atmosphere that sustains our existence.
Some of the e-mails revealed a scientific mindset intent on deliberately manipulating national and international policies towards fighting greenhouse gas emissions produced from coal, oil and gas rather than quietly, methodically and dispassionately conducting experiments that would be thoroughly peer-reviewed before being presented to a waiting world.
A few of the e-mails also showed a remarkable degree of arrogance from scientists who didn’t want to share material with the public that didn’t neatly advance their preconceived notions of what climate change is already doing and will continue to do if it is not aggressively fought through global cooperation, government regulation and a profound personal shift in how we use energy.
Little wonder then, and especially in light of the failure of the Copenhagen conference to broker a new, strengthened and binding post-Kyoto agreement on limiting greenhouse gases, that a fevered media spotlight began exposing more about the e-mails and how the now embattled Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) conducted some of its affairs.
Most problematic for the IPCC, a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for its work advancing knowledge of climate change, was the revelation that an often-quoted conclusion saying that the glaciers in the Himalayas would have melted by 2035, thus creating an epic tragedy for large parts of a thirsty and overpopulated Asia, was not adequately researched, was not peer-reviewed and was wrong.
The recent tawdry revelations will no doubt thrill climate deniers and those reluctant to embrace a needed green energy revolution since they will seed discord amongst a frightened and doubtful citizenry.
Indeed, as discussions about “Climate-gate” continue to go viral in our 24/7 world, it comes as no surprise that recent polls in the US show Americans aren’t as interested in global warming as they were a year ago and public opinion surveys in the UK indicate a growing number of people think global warming has been exaggerated.
Investigations into the e-mails and how the IPCC could allow some very sloppy research into its volumes of published data will continue. Several people in academia may be fired or quit their jobs. There may well be legal consequences. Changes will definitely have to be made.
Politicians responsible for finding a solution to climate change should not be dissuaded from their task, however. The complex global warming conundrum is not going to go away simply because a few mistakes have been made by protective, over-zealous scientists.
The overwhelming weight of properly supervised scientific conclusions shows that global warming is already happening and related computer modelling indicates it will get worse unless greenhouse gas emissions peak soon before drastically declining. Those are the facts.
An avid promoter of disciplined research, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) encourages policy makers to strike back against the business-as-usual climate sceptics and work towards reaching a courageous new international agreement on limiting CO2 and other destructive greenhouse gases.
After all, vote-hungry politicians know that the bulk of the IPCC data cannot be denied. The world is warming and solutions to the greatest challenge of the 21st Century currently exist. Just as science must be beyond reproach, action is required.
For a long time now, emissions-free wind power has been demonstrating how it is has become a major player in the new green energy revolution. Just last week, new EWEA statistics revealed that, for the second year in a row, more new wind energy capacity was installed in the EU in 2009 than any other electricity-generating technology.
Investors pumped €13 billion into new European wind farms last year resulting in more than 10,000 MW of wind power capacity installed across the EU – a 23% increase over 2008 installations.
Not only is that a lot of faith in onshore and offshore wind power, it promises a more optimistic tomorrow based both on carefully-researched science and the will to participate in life-affirming change.
By Chris Rose, EWEA