Copenhagen – Where’s The Science?

Secretary-General Addresses Climate Change Sum...

Image by United Nations Photo via Flickr

The next couple of weeks will be dominated by the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, and probably some nasty brutish debate with science caught somewhere in the middle. While the negotiators fumble towards a compromise that keeps all the vested interests happy while appearing to be taking tough action, I’ll be busy pushing the idea that we should actually do something about it.

Unfortunately the political response to climate change so far has been simply to set targets and impose taxes. While every politician knows that the only way to reduce energy consumption would be to double prices, as the recent oil price spike showed, that would be political suicide, so the response has been ‘green taxes’, adding a few pence here, a pound on air passenger duty there, that no one will notice too much.

However, merely taxing and punishing people doesn’t provide a solution and the only way to make a difference is to make sure that we are applying the fruits of four thousand years of science and technology more effectively than we do at present. That means governments supporting science with the fruits of the eco taxes, rather than simply shovelling them into the black holes of the banking system, and NGO’s stopping their knee-jerk anti science reactions and working with the scientific community to find acceptable sustainable solutions.

The most important thing to emerge from Copenhagen will not be a new round of targets, but a real commitment to ensure that the technologies we need to tackle climate change (and this involves nanotech, industrial biotech, geoengineering, synthetic biology and a whole range of other technologies that are currently unpalatable to the huge swathers of the ‘stop climate change’ lobby) can be effectively developed and deployed, and pronto!

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  1. Pingback: Completing the circle: Coupling science & technology outputs to inputs

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