I have been appalled by the discussion in the press about those internal emails that were stolen from the UK Climate Centre. Not the content of the emails themselves but the way that they have been manipulated and tossed about as justification for extremist positions.
The pity is that data about the real world is never as clear as opinion would like it to be. And problems of messy and inconsistent data are everywhere — hence the delicate art of data cleansing. Which is why even outside of climate study there are so many analysis that start with the same data and derive opposite conclusions. I am sorry but I disagree with anyone who thinks that we understand what is happening to our climate and why. The climate system in the world is just to complex for our tiny brains to comprehend — with the influence on cloud cover by cosmic rays and solar activity, local circulation patterns in air and sea, forest destruction, temperature-sensitive absorption of gasses by the land and sea, and countless other variables that we probably don’t know exist let alone understand.
So whether the Saudis or the oil sands of Alberta doom us to a death by climate change I am afraid that we are much too stupid to be able to predict — let alone decide on what wrenching and expensive changes to power generation will affect the outcome.
Some effects are visible to all — the loss of ice cover in the arctic, melting of glaciers, rising of the sea and gradually changing seasons — visible even in our local weather data. The loss of glaciers will eventually cut the water supply to large areas of China and India. Rising seas will engulf low lying coastal areas like Bangladesh, Miami and Manhattan. These changes seem apparent even from my safe haven in Ontario — but I fear that the debate over whether global climates are changing and who is at fault is masking the clear and present problems already being experienced.
But that day does not appear to be here. A pity. I would hope that someday mankind as a whole would have the maturity to respect places of beauty and try to leave the world a better place for the next generation. Not just a used-up garbage dump.