Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CCC - Copenhagen, Climate Change and Climategate

Dear Readers,

Today I am not writing about markets, instead, let me tell how I feel about Climate Change and the infamous Copenhagen Meet. Global Warming is not a fiction but a reality, you don't need to check scientific data, you need to only look at your surroundings with a closer look and you will understand how things are changing in real world (forget 2012, the movie).

The Fact:

The Fact we have today is that our planet is warming. NOBODY is against it as long as I have assessed it following various media - TV, Internet and local people. Almost all know this reality that climate is certainly changing. IPCC scientists gathered data that demonstrates these facts. Al Gore came out with "An Inconvenient Truth", a documentary in which he talks about changing environmental and geological facts.

The Doubt:

There is one community which is hard pressing on proving that all this climate change thing is rubbish. Their efforts have made it a conspiracy theory and their arguments are as valid as that of scientists. They created real drama out of email leaks of IPCC scientists (Climategate) which suggests that data was deliberately presented in a way that proved their logic of climate change and if all data of last thousands of years is present, then this looks like to be only a warming up earth cycle and not anthropogenic global warming. Among the most vocal opponents of climate change being anthropogenic (caused by humans) are Free Market advocates. Here, I feel the punch. I also belong to that group (Free Market) and at the same time I am deeply concerned about climate change. So, do I have split personality disorder? Or I am plain hypocrite?

The above details bring out two points:
  1. Climate Change is real and we are definitely witnessing changing weather patterns.
  2. The cause of this change is doubtful, it may be anthropogenic and it may be a natural cycle.
The first point is where most agree. We have a changing climate pattern and threats of natural disasters and sustainability of human beings and other life forms is in danger. The second point is where people are divided. Those who believe it is caused by human activities warn of dangerous consequences if we do not reduce our irresponsible actions. While on other side, those who believe this is not anthropogenic, want governments to stay away and let business as usual run its course. Here is one presentation I found on the internet which supports the skeptics views:
You can find the link of presenters at the last slide.

So, which stand do I take? Well, I am doubtful. I doubt both camps is some ways. However, my personal thoughts are in support of IPCC scientists. I can not digest the skeptics' line that human activities don't have to do anything with the changing climate pattern. We humans have grown from a mere 1% of vertebrate biomass 10000 years ago to 98% today! It means we are effectively in control of things much more than natural courses. See for yourself, the breakthroughs in almost every field of life - medicine, technology, mining, energy consumption and food wastage. We are no more a 'competing' species, we are a CONTROLLING species. We have the power to shave mountains, to stop and change course of giant rivers, to dig miles into earth, to produce obscenely high energy wasting machines and so on.... And along with this 'development' we have always succeeded in keeping one trait intact - IRRESPONSIBILITY. But then that's how life works. Life is never responsible, at least for other fellow life elements. Life prospers on consuming other life forms. This is how nature works. But, if this is true then how come life has succeeded in making itself successful? Well, that's because so far (before humans) life was evolving on consuming other lives in a way that basic equilibrium was established. No animal ruled this planet forever, however powerful it had been. But, we humans seem to be the first animal that will rule this planet, forever. We have become efficient but not responsible. We don't think like an intelligent being when it comes to consumption. We consume as if resources are aplenty and will never run out. What can be worse is we had and still have economists who advocated overconsumption as a means to prosperity. The result? We ended up with a world where resources are fast depleting in a long term view. Those who are more developed, consume many times that is required for them. They believe in use-and-throw. They believe this creates better economic opportunity!
So, to say that human action is 'not a factor at all' is a very irresponsible statement.

The Solution:

Here is where I take side with Free Market, Capitalistic society. Whether humans are causing it or not, any forced attempt to stop free markets can not work. Any govt action which threatens free market economy and people's will can not work. In fact, its the free market system that can find the solution. We have found out better and efficient ways to produce energy through course of time without any govt intervention. We developed ways to do things in a better way and most of the developments were without govt action. Whereas, wherever we have govt doing things to 'promote' green energy etc, we see it fail. An example is here in India. Our govt has been 'promoting' alternative energy in the form of solar panels, solar cookers etc with subsidies for a long time, not out of environmental challenges, but out of massive oil import bills and energy security. However, I have not seen those efforts bearing fruits at all. If something is inefficient, then no subsidy can help it.

If we had true free markets, then we would have seen a definite change in energy use. Why does Indian govt subsidize petroleum products? Why are the rates kept artificially low at most times? If we had people paying actual price for consuming these products, they would consume it rationally. Indian govt does this and so do many other govts but the effect is positive only for oil exporters. Likewise, the easy money creation by central banks around the world (US, the leader of course) creates opportunity for misuse of natural resources. The global recession that started last year or so, promised to reduce excesses in consumption but again, the govts and central banks made sure people continue overconsuming and now they call for a control? Complete nonsense. Leave people free and let them decide for themselves, only then we can expect reduction in irresponsible actions.

The Copenhagen Meet has failed as world leaders could not arrive at some concrete solution. In the end, they managed to leave tons of carbon dioxide themselves which was totally unnecessary. It was supposed to fail as developing countries will not agree (I am not taking sides with them) unless the developed ones actually cut their irresponsible behaviour of overconsumption which leads to more greenhouse gases emissions. Whether the greenhouse gases are dangerous or not, our politicians definitely are.

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