Article publicat a l’edició digital del diari The Guardian d’avui dimecres 28 d’agost, per Leo Hickman.
350.org, the US-based environmental campaign group which aims to build a “global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis”, has launched a new petition. It wants it supporters to urge the World Meteorological Organization to name hurricanes after “deniers and obstructionists”. Its ClimateNameChange.org website says:
Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. As scientific evidence shows that climate change is creating increasingly frequent and devastating storms, and with climate scientists declaring these extreme weather events as the new normal, we propose a new naming system. A system that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy.
To date, just a few days since launching, it has almost reached its target of 25,000 signatures. Of course, the campaign has zero chance of succeeding. Hell would glaciate before the WMO would consider such a request. 350.org knows this. It’s just their inventive, tongue-in-cheek way of further highlighting the US policy makers – predominantly Republicans – who “deny climate change and obstruct climate policy”. (The Washington Post’s weather editor has more on why hurricanes are not necessarily the “best post children” for climate change due to the scientific uncertainties that still exist when trying to link today’s extreme storms with climate change.)
From my own perspective, this petition feels a little, well, 2007. Yes, there are certainly those in the US Congress – as there are (in much smaller numbers) in other legislative houses around the world – who will never accept the tenets of climate science. But “climate denier” politicians such as Senator James Inhofe are fast withering on the vine. The real world is leaving behind those who flatly reject the science underpinning the notion that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. Campaigners (outside the US, at least) don’t really need to expend their energy targeting this breed of “denier” any more.
What we are now seeing more of, though, are climate policy sceptics. Yes, some of these are the same characters as before, but who have subtly, artful repositioned themselves over recent years. So rather than claiming that climate science is a hoax, a fraud or fundamentally flawed, they now say the proposed climate policies will have little, if any, impact on the planet’s temperature gauge and are therefore a waste of time and money. They know that this is a more tenable (and electable?) position from which to argue their point. (In the UK, only two political parties – Ukip and the BNP – proudly state in their manifestos that they doubt, or reject, climate science; proof, if it were ever needed, that climate scepticism is predominantly built upon a foundation of ideology rather than science. Additionally, the work of James Painter at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford has also highlighted how cultural/media support for climate sceptics varies greatly from country to country.)
John Abraham made an astute point the other day when he said that it rarely gets noticed that climate sceptics have actually conceded a lot of ground over recent years when it comes to the science. Many have begun to adopt a so-called “lukewarmer” position, which means they now accept the basics of climate science but don’t think it’s worth investing heavily today to prevent or limit a problem that will increasingly hit home in the decades ahead.
As I have noted many times before, I think this is a profoundly risky and irresponsible strategy. But, then again, I’m not a politician whose survival depends on a four-to-five year election cycle. Nothing exposes our species’ “future flaw” more than climate change – rarely, if ever, have the history books demonstrated a generation acting selflessly, or with sacrifice, for the sole benefit of generations to come. We are an extraordinary animal in so many ways, but one of our weaknesses is that we operate firmly in the present tense. We jump only when we are in imminent danger ourselves. If not, we prevaricate, delay or turn our heads away. Climate change requires us to fast overcome this flaw…
A personal note: after 16 years working as a Guardian journalist, this is my final article. Next month, I will take up the role of chief advisor, climate change at WWF-UK. Journalism has undergone so many changes over this time, but one that has excited me the most has been the increased interaction with readers via comments under the blogs such as this, or through online platforms such as Twitter. (I can’t quite believe it is 13 years since I wrote the first-ever post for the Guardian’s “weblog”!) Even though the debate can be passionate at times, I have cherished this dialogue. I believe it only acts to strengthen journalism and, personally, has led me to develop collaborative reader/journalist initiatives such as the Eco Audit. So I just want to use this opportunity upon my departure to say a sincere thank you to all those who have taken the time over the years to engage constructively and that I hope to continue that debate from time to time here on the EnvironmentGuardian site once settled into my new role.