When there’s a slow news day, and no interesting disaster has taken place to make a good headline, you can always count on global climate change to fill in the gaps. Yesterday we learned about “natural wonders” that are being destroyed by climate change. Of course, this is a press release from the World Wildlife Fund, not a peer-reviewed scientific paper and in fact not even issued by the IPCC. I think the most interesting aspect of this article is the implied viewpoint that climate change can somehow be prevented. WWF’s chief scientist said, “…more attention will have to be paid to adapting to change, not only trying to prevent it…” In the controversy over whether or not humans are causing global warming, environmentalists seem to have forgotten that the global climate has been changing, all on its own, for millions of years. Probably millions of species have been wiped out, and natural wonders destroyed, by past climate change long before humans came along. The “natural wonders” that are familiar to us exist because they happen to thrive in the particular climate conditions that occured in the past several thousand years–geologically speaking, a very short time. When conditions change, nature will change. Even if we can prevent one component of climate change that is caused by humans, the world will change, species will die out, and people will suffer. Welcome to life on Earth–adapt or go extinct.
On a side note: “…diplomats and scientists were negotiating the text of a 21-page summary of the full 1,572-page scientific report.” Now that sounds like formula guaranteed to achieve accuracy and exclude bias.
Also, now available for download: the executive summary of the 4th Report, 1st Working Group, from the International Panel on Climate Change. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for May to get the full report and see what it really says.