Increasingly dire reports related to future human survival from climate change effects are still being generated. Yet most, if not virtually of them, continue to downplay their exact wording with an emphasis, although not always clearly articulated, on the ‘opportunity’ to mitigate climate change, as if this is something to celebrate.
Apparently, this type of documentation is intended to create impetus to finally and decisively act on climate change. Except that it won’t. You only need to examine the evidence of the recent past for the proof.
Here is a current example of what I’m talking about. From the The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment (January 2019)
1. Adaptation to climate change is increasingly urgent for the HKH—yet for policy makers it is a complex challenge. Adaptation responses by governments in the HKH are mostly incremental and not yet well integrated with development plans and programmes. Especially at the subnational level, action suffers from poor understanding of existing autonomous responses, as well as insufficient resources, climate information, and clear adaptation options.
2. In spite of these challenges, opportunities do exist for a scaled up, inclusive, and more comprehensive climate change adaptation responses in the HKH. Such opportunities may include improved regional cooperation among HKH countries, incentives to promote policy experimentation, initiatives to develop climate literacy, and enhanced private sector engagement.
3. Bolstering climate change adaptation in the HKH will require very substantial increases in funding than currently available. As climate change funding filters down from international and national sources to local government and community levels, the funding loses its “identity” as adaptation finance. With appropriate incentive mechanisms, private financing also might support adaptation.
1. Climate change adaptation policies and practices must intensify in the HKH—and must become transformative. Lessons learned from successful policy instruments, such as the Local Adaptation Plans for Action (LAPAs), should widely inform efforts elsewhere. Governments will benefit from mainstreaming these instruments in their planning and budgeting processes. Institutional capacity on adaptation needs to increase until it fits to purpose at each level of governance.
2. Local-level autonomous responses to climate variability and extreme events must be systematically studied, documented, and validated. Such responses need to generate critical, practice-based feedback for adaptation planning at higher governance levels.
3. HKH countries and institutions must work together to build mechanisms and fora to debate and negotiate key challenges, such as data sharing, and to incentivize regional cooperation and cross-learning at a regional scale. This cooperation is needed to harness relevant opportunities, expertise and experiences.
This is the palatable ‘version’ for policy maker and public consumption, and apparently still the best science can still do. It’s readable, unoffensive and waters down the devastating and destructive impacts into nice little bullet statements that are easily digestible – and just as easily, forgettable.
Science applauds itself with churning out these kinds of documents (in massive quantities). Thousands are produced each year. I’ve yet to see a single one that actually lays out the brutal honesty that is now grossly overdue and in my opinion, urgently required on the topic of global warming and climate mitigation. Science simply won’t write it. So what does it mean then when the experts won’t tell it like it really is?
Nothing much gets done. Few people get alarmed, policies don’t change much and the problem receives the same general non-attention and widespread ignorance as always. ‘Incremental’ efforts are akin to the often claimed ‘too little – too late’ that plagues the pathetic attempts to-date to effectively address the global issue of warming.
For science professionals, this is state-of-the-art reporting and deemed more then adequate to inform policymakers. But is it? Globally, policy makers have continued to respond with too little, too late and even outright indifference to this topic critical to all of humanity. Small, incremental and globally inconsequential changes have been made, largely in part because science continues to give policy makers the ‘out’ they ultimately desire and almost always take in their publications – there’s still ‘time’ and ‘opportunity’ and implicit within these claims is their assumption that “we can still fix this”.
Yet the reality is quite different – it is not being fixed, oftentimes the technology doesn’t even exist, and it absolutely is not being given the priority and the attention that it deserves if we truly want to solve this problem (and save our species).
Having watched this circus of deception for many years, I’ve seen almost no change in the tone, type, method, severity and urgency taking place. There has been some slight improvements – but not much, and I believe that science shares the burden for the inaction on the most critical issue of our time.
You won’t find agreement (most likely) with the science community with my position, but I’ll keep making my case, as I’ve always done.
Science does not take a stand on political inaction. But it’s plainly obvious that they should. The methodology of science and the culture of science tries to separate itself from politics, but anybody that has worked within the science community well understands that politics plays a very large role within science. I myself worked with different scientist years ago and saw this evidence first hand. It’s only gotten worse as politics have permeated pretty much all agencies and government activities. The science community prides itself on being independent of political pressures, but it’s not true. It’s reflected in their reports and in the published materials they generate. You have to be willing to wade into these documents to find it.
So that’s what I’ve done below.
From the same Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment (unedited):
1. In the future, even if global warming is kept to 1.5 °C, warming in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region will likely be at least 0.3 °C higher, and in the northwest Himalaya and Karakoram at least 0.7 °C higher. Such large warming could trigger a multitude of biophysical and socio-economic impacts, such as biodiversity loss, increased glacial melting, and less predictable water availability—all of which will impact livelihoods and well-being in the HKH. The HKH has seen significant warming in the past decades nearly equal to the global average. Elevation Dependent Warming is widely observed in the region in past as well as future projections.
2. For the past five to six decades, the HKH have shown a rising trend of extreme warm events; a falling trend of extreme cold events; and a rising trend in extreme values and frequencies of temperature-based indices (both minimum and maximum). The number of cold nights reduced by 1 night per decade and the number of cold days reduced by 0.5 days per decade, while the number of warm nights increased by 1.7 nights per decade and number of warm days increased by 1.2 days per decade. These changes in extremes will continue and pose even more acute challenges to adaptation.
3. The HKH is experiencing increasing variability in western disturbances and a higher probability of snowfall in the Karakoram and western Himalaya, changes that will likely contribute to increases in glacier mass in those areas. This finding runs counter to many expectations in the scientific community, and more research is needed to understand the reasons for this and its potential future implications.
4. Consensus among models for the HKH region is weak—a result of the region’s complex topography and the coarse resolution of global climate models. To improve evidence-based adaptation, improved climate models and downscaling strategies capable of capturing changes in extreme events are essential.
1. More robust climate change analysis and adaptation planning will not be possible without improved long-term hydrometeorological monitoring in the HKH. High-altitude areas of the HKH lack long-term observational data, and the available data suffer from large inconsistencies and from high inhomogeneity. Systematic bias is also present through the urbanization effect on meteorological observations, and through the wind effect on precipitation observations.
2. For accurate cryospheric projections, more reliable projections of elevation-dependent warming are crucial. Although the evidence for elevation-dependent warming in the HKH is strong, the precise mechanisms underlying this phenomenon involve multiple feedbacks, such as snow-albedo interactions, water vapor—cloud—radiation interactions, aerosol forcing, and warrant further research.
3. Policies and planning should focus on improved disaster warning systems, management and mitigation measures to address hydrometeorological extremes. This should include better understanding of hazard and risk, end-to-end monitoring and early warning and response systems.
Ok, you should be able to pick out the disingenuous parts and words that were written here if you know anything at all about what the future promises to unfold on the world.
But I’m going to do it for you below to demonstrate my point that science is utterly failing to convey what really needs to be said, and thus, contributing to the gross inaction on climate change world-wide.
1. The bland assumption, based upon virtually nothing but hopium and non-existent technology, that global warming might possibly be held to 1.5 °C is the first critical error. Not only will that NOT happen, it’s already warmer then this figure in various parts of the world. The next sentence uses the word “could” versus “will”, which implies reasonable doubt and thus room for inaction. This is clearly not true, but there it is, in black and white.
2. In part 2, the information that this has occurred per decade at the rate of just 1 night and 0.5 days is a non-starter. Would you be alarmed at such tiny changes per decade? Are they even statistically significant? (no). How then does this relate to the first sentence and their seriousness, of a rising trend of extreme warm events, and a falling trend of extreme cold events? Don’t these events themselves have statistically more meaning then the tiny numbers presented, such as exactly what happened during these extreme warm and extreme cold events? Did people or livestock die? Were village and towns affected and impacted? Or do these tiny numbers distract us from these extreme events?
3. What does increase variability actually mean? Or western disturbances? Is Trump’s bloviating hot air involved? Or does this mean something else? All kidding aside, wouldn’t this have been a good place to actually list the impacts of this variability, instead of just glossing over it? If it’s not mentioned here in the key findings – then there is no cause for concern.
4. Models are weak. But why? Are there funding issues? Professional issues? Lack of experts? What extreme events are being missed now? Since none of this is even mentioned, perhaps there isn’t any reason to read any further or even take much notice of this point in the key findings.
1. What does more robust climate change analysis and adaptation planning actually mean? How much will it cost? Who do we need? What do we need? Where should the hydrometeorological monitoring be performed? What is the explanation for the systemic bias? What kind of inaccuracies and at what scale has the urbanization effect and wind effect had on precipitation observations? How significant is the system bias mentioned and what errors and their effects are being introduced?
2. How will more reliable projects be accomplished? What is needed?
3. This paragraph is a doozy. We’ve just been told (if we are astute and paying attention) that there are introduced systemic bias (inaccuracies) but now the policy message is to improve disaster warning systems. That sounds good – but will they be accurate with the bias? The better understanding of hazards and risks is more then a bit vague, it’s unspecific and doesn’t convey any kind of urgency or real danger (which we know exists since actual deadly events have occurred, but this information isn’t conveyed). Moreover, early warning and response systems go where? How will they work? What is their reliability and dependencies? Can they be trusted? How will they help?
It’s absolutely true that policy makers could read the entire report – but will they? And even if they did – where is the urgency?
Their American counter-parts pass onerous legislation without reading any of it routinely. Most likely, they’ll do what all politicians do – scan it (if that) or rely on an aid to simply tell them what it says. Of course, this is a shitty way to govern, but it’s how its done. Therefore, key findings and policy messages should convey critical essential facts and urgency where applicable. If it doesn’t stand out, it’s not going to be understood.
Now go back and read the first set of key findings where they claim that “stronger action is urgently needed” (top of the blog post page). Notice anything? I definitely do.
First off, where is the so-called “urgency” in this key finding? It’s completely missing.
If I were a policy maker and I read this headlie, I’d go right back to sleep or move on to the next item on the agenda.
Try this yourself if you read any of the science publications. Science is afraid or unable to actually convey the real climate emergency that exists. I’m beginning to understand the real reasons why, but that is still no excuse.
And here’s what you will also notice, but perhaps you haven’t fully understood yet: the real urgency of the ‘science message’ on global warming and what it means for the world is not coming from science writers, authors or researchers. Isn’t that more then a bit odd? And why is this happening?
Science either needs an interpreter to articulate the urgency they allege exists, or to completely revamps its methodology of communication. Not many people will accept the opinions and research of blog authors like mine, even if they are based upon the science that’s been published. I get that, but the problem I’ve identified still exists. Science desperately needs to make a firm, clear stance on the existential threat that exists and to stop watering down their expectations.
I know – you know – that an extinction level event is unfolding right now and they need to flat-out tell the world’s governments, policy makers and stake-holders what is happening with no uncertainty or room for doubt and inaction. The urgency and extreme emergency tone is missing. And they need to plainly state with the same level of urgency and irrevocability what needs to be done. It’s becoming really painful to realize that either they don’t know – or won’t accept any ideas that challenge their own bias and belief systems.
They’re not serious. And you can find that evidence right in their own published material.