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Robison: Climate Change Discord

02/02/10 5:55PM By Olin Robison
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(HOST) Commentator Olin Robison has been thinking about the discord between dissenters and true believers - regarding perhaps the most important issue of our time.  

(ROBISON) Is it real?  Or is it just an enormous hoax?

A clear majority of the world's climate scientists are convinced that it is real.  A few are not yet yet convinced and may never be.  I am talking, of course, about Climate Change.

A lot of Americans, quite frankly, don't know what to believe.  Truth in advertising compels me to confess that I am a believer.  I am convinced that it is real.  The other side, the sceptics, would, in my opinion, be more convincing if they were not so self serving which is to say if their view did not have so many dollar signs attached.

No less a conservative magazine as London's Economist has signed on as a believer.  The Economist may well be the finest news magazine in the world - although they call themselves a newspaper.  Not long ago they ran a complete 14 page Special Section on Climate Change; so convinced are they of the reality.

A short while ago I attended a special session on the subject of Climate Change at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs.  It was packed... probably 200 people.  I was astonished to observe that not once during this lengthy session did I hear the name Obama mentioned.  Nor were the names Al Gore or Michael Moore mentioned.  Among America's more conservative set politically these three are the truly bad guys on this subject.. as well as on numerous other subjects one might add.  I have no idea whether this surprises you but it surprised me.

So very many matters divide America's political class these days.  And, as a religiously conservative friend of mine said recently,  "We hate the term moderation".  What it boils down to is a form of rigidity that usually sees someone who disagrees with you as "evil" and we all know that one must never, never negotiate with "evil".

He was speaking in a religious context but, as we all know, religion has now infected the political realm..

The aforementioned Economist recently opined that "science lives off doubt," while "politicians sell certainty".  It is, alas, true and this time the stakes are very high indeed.  Unhappily, Climate Change has become one of the most divisive issues around.

The Royal Institute meeting was run by people, all of whom had been in Copenhagen.  They were all of course "believers" and spent most of their time critiquing what did not happen there.

I must confess that I did not learn much at the session save the definitional differences between a "protocol", an "accord" and an "agreement".  Just so you know, in diplomatic speak a "protocol" is a statement.  And "accord" is a statement of intentions;  an "agreement" is politically binding..  Kyoto produced a protocol;  Copenhagen produced an accord.  Thus ends today's lesson.

President Obama went to Copenhagen for the last day of the conference which probably caused the accord to be produced.  Otherwise there probably would have been nothing.

What politicians everywhere know is that it is their successors who will have to deal with their intentions simply because the agreed upon compliance dates are sufficiently far out to be safe.

An "agreement" was not possible, so it was said, because the United States and China could not agree on much of anything.

That part, dear friends, is much more likely to get worse with the passage of time.

(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Olin Robison on-line at VPR-dot-net.
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