Opinion: One day to save the world

December 5th will see the Copenhagen climate change summit get underway, for two weeks of talks that must lead to a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and perhaps something as binding and successful as the 1987 Montreal Protocol that led to the phasing out of harmful CFC and HCFC propellants.

The talks are a long time coming; 2009 is the tail-end of the deadline for agreement already set by world leaders in Bali in 2007.

But we’re already seeing problems with what is being proposed. China and the USA, between them responsible for 42% of the world’s CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, have proposed uninspiring emissions targets based on high 2005 figures, and Barack Obama has raised the possibility that no agreement will be reached.

Frankly, this is unacceptable, and we think it’s time for a bit of old-fashioned co-ordinated civil action to remind world leaders that actually, the people of this planet want to see radical action on a bold, even savage, scale. The time for talking is over – we need firm commitments on what will happen and how, before it’s too late. So why not join us and thousands of others this Saturday to help save the world?

The recent leak of emails and data from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit does not lessen the need for action. The climate has still warmed dramatically since 1975. Island nations like Tuvalu or the Maldives are still sinking, as ice shelves melt and sea levels rise. The poor methodology and result manipulation of the work of a handful of closeted scientists does not stop climate change happening, and the sheer amount of data and source code released means sceptics have had a field day picking and choosing the bits that fit their narrative over those that don’t. We still need to act now to stop irreversible climate chaos tomorrow.

Liberals are also understandably concerned that climate legislation will be used command-style to nobble industry and instate unworkable targets, forcing price inflation and needless hardship. But we can and should invest in the new technologies, methods, and adaptations we need to power the future economy, using the new market conditions to innovate and progress sustainably to secure a future for all. Britain led the world in trailblazing civil nuclear engineering in the last century, and we can do the same with tidal and other renewable sources given the political will in this one.

That’s why Liberal Youth are going to have a big presence at The Wave event, part of a global series of campaigns and protests to show that the willpower needed for real change exists now. The more people we get coming down to join in on the action, the better, so register to attend at our Facebook group! For the jaded amongst us, this isn’t an old socialist march we’re ganging up on, and a wide range of groups are part of the coalition behind it, so we certainly won’t be outnumbered or marginalised. Indeed, our presence will show that the Lib Dems are the only mainstream party that has consistently taken the threat of climate change seriously.

Meet with other Lib Dems at 11.00am on Upper Brook Street before we meet with the rest of the rally at 12pm in Grovesnor Square and march to Parliament! The aim is to encircle Parliament at 3pm.

This will be a serious but fun event with flashdances, music, dancing and lots of entertainment. The dress code is blue, so get out the face paint and hair dye and we’ll bring the placards!

Robson Brown is a Liberal Youth member working in Bradford, Bristol and Essex, and will be joining the Wave this weekend.

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This entry was posted in Events and Op-eds.


  • Andrew Suffield 2nd Dec '09 - 3:05pm

    A minor point – the UEA emails are less than some media outlets have reported. All that was discovered was a single instance where one researcher produced a composite graph that omitted some data which, in all fairness, he didn’t think was accurate anyway. While this is verging on professional misconduct and will doubtless be bad for his career, there were no falsified results, and it has no impact on anybody else’s research.

  • Another Mark 2nd Dec '09 - 6:06pm

    I think you should go to http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/climategate.html and download Lord Monckton’s PDF report on the affair before claiming there’s nothing to the story. If what he says is correct, then something very dodgy has been going on with the data and the claims arising from it for several years.

    Whether he is correct or not, it’s obvious that, contrary to what the mainstream media have been telling us, there is a still a huge debate going on about the truth of man-made global warming and the accuracy of the data being published. Whatever anyone’s personal opinion of the case is, this is a big story, and I cannot understand why the mainstream media are behaving as though the story doesn’t exist.

  • Andrew Suffield 2nd Dec '09 - 11:32pm

    If what he says is correct, then something very dodgy has been going on with the data and the claims arising from it for several years.

    It’s not correct. It’s a very pretty document that is a mixture of complete fiction, bad maths, and the same point we’ve already mentioned repeated over and over and over for forty pages. By endlessly repeating the same story of the same incident, he spins it as some grand conspiracy – but all he’s really talking about is one researcher and one graph.

    Monckton’s a well-known kook. He produces a lot of pieces of paper that look like science to the untrained observer, but rather than documenting research, contain things that he just made up; towards the end, they turn into absurd ranting. For example, here’s his proposal on how to deal with this incident (p38 in that document):

    The first step is to close the Climate Research Unit (and perhaps the University of East Anglia
    with it)

    Let the climate criminals stand trial, and let them be fined for offenses under the Freedom of
    Information laws, and let them be imprisoned for their fraudulent tampering with scientific
    data, and for their suppression of results uncongenial to their politicized viewpoint, and for
    the sheer venom with which they have publicly as well as privately denigrated all those
    scientists with whom they disagreed, and for the insouciance with which they interfered
    with editors of scientific journals and with the process of the UN’s climate panel itself.

    It’s probably fortunate for him that you can’t actually send somebody to jail for “sheer venom”. I’d suggest that it’s best not to listen to this guy, and anybody else who seriously suggests “close the universities”.

    there is a still a huge debate going on about the truth of man-made global warming and the accuracy of the data being published

    Scientists don’t debate. They sometimes have personal arguments, but they don’t debate science; they deal in research and empirical facts. Anybody you find debating is a politician. There is most assuredly a great deal of political chatter still going on about this – I don’t think anybody was unaware of this.

    Whatever anyone’s personal opinion of the case is, this is a big story, and I cannot understand why the mainstream media are behaving as though the story doesn’t exist.

    Because even if one researcher had faked all his data, it’s still not a big story. We get a handful of researchers doing that every year; they’re promptly caught and fired (it’s almost impossible to get away with, which is why very few people try). One more would not be that interesting – and this one didn’t even fake any data, just rigged the way it was displayed. Science is a lot bigger than one person, and the occasional bad researchers don’t taint anybody else’s data.

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