The vehemence with which Nigel Lawson has been attacked following todays article in the Wall Street Journal is hardly surprising, but I found the attacks from the scientific community surprisingly short sighted and naive.
The thrust of Lawson’s article, that adaptation may be a better strategy than the futile search for a global agreement has enraged many, but the human race has been so successful precisely because it is adaptable – from Kalahari Bushmen to Eskimos there are few environments where our race hasn’t been able to scratch out some kind of existence. However it also seems clear that the world pins its hopes on getting the major global governments to agree on anything then we are doomed anyway.
Finding a mechanism to limit the emissions of greenhouse gasses must be a priority, but in the absence of a global agreement then its up to the scientific community to come up with the solutions, something even Lawson acknowledges.
And beyond adaptation, plan B should involve a relatively modest increased government investment in technological research and development—in energy, in adaptation and in geoengineering.
I think the Cat in the Hat got it right, when clearing up the snow he tried little cats A to Y, but little cat Z was the one with the VOOOM under his hat that cleared up the mess. The greatest danger is that we stick to some kind of idealistic and utopian dream of a low carbon world without considering any other options, and then we one day find that it is too late. I’m a little concerned that many in the scientific community are so unworldly as to believe that the worlds major economies will hobble their economic growth and fork over a big chunk of GDP to various dodgy and corrupt regimes in order to attempt to maintain the climate in its current state – something the planet can’t even do in the absence of humans.
Given the track record of the UN over the last sixty years it’s hard to pin any hope of Copenhagen, Mexico or wherever the next jamboree will be. It is only sensible we should also look at the alternatives, adaptation and geoengineering as prominent among them as being boiled alive. I’d fork over a more than modest chunk of GDP towards science, and not only in the hope of averting environmental disaster, but in the hope of making sure that we have the economic growth to be able to do something about an ever growing list of global problems.
Issues as important as this are far too important to be left to politicians.