16 November 2007

The End Is Nigh

At last, the UN has agreed its fourth and final report on climate change — or, more accurately, its final "synthesis" of the report from the highly politicised Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The twenty-page document, to be released tomorrow in Valencia by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is intended to act as a blueprint for the next round of climate talks starting next month in Bali, Indonesia, as the world's governments negotiate a successor to the Kyoto treaty, which expires in 2012.

Despite offering no new scientific evidence for human-caused global warming, and despite reducing their earlier predictions for future warming and suggesting its impact will be less severe and more distant than they had previously claimed, this latest forecast makes the strongest assertions yet that mankind is pushing the climate past some irreversible tipping point, some "point of no return."

As regular readers will know, I'm all for a serious discussion about environmental and social sustainability. I just wish the debate could be a little less myopic and a little more open, a little less hysterical and a little more rational.