Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where do we go from here?

The last three months or so has been somewhat depressing for those hoping for concerted global action on climate change (which is on reason why my blogging has been light). Yet, they have been heady months for what is becoming a powerful climate-skeptic movement.

The relentless amplification of allegations from 'climategate', the damp-squib Copenhagen conference, and the constant attacks on the professionalism of the IPCC have taken a toll on the public support for global warming mitigation measures.

In Australia, Newspoll is documenting that decline:

Good luck if you can read the fine-print. Clicking on the image should give you a bigger one, but not much clearer than The Australian version, from whence it came. But, the point is, while the community is still mostly aware that climate change is happening, a whopping 84% believed so in July 2008 but this figure is down by 11% a little over eighteen months later. The change in the percentage of those ascribing climate change to human influences has not been as great, nevertheless it is moving in the same direction - down.

All while certainty in the scientific community has moved in the opposite direction.

But, the biggest erosion has been in support for the CPRS, and it has been in a greater proportion to the change in belief that climate change is real. Fifteen percent fewer are in favour of a CPRS/ETS than were sixteen months ago, and 13% more are against it. To my mind, that is a consequence of the Rudd government not bothering with selling it to the public, preferring to let the Coalition's previous internal woes dominate the discourse.

Now the Coalition opposition have coalesced under the plain speaking Tony Abbott, and convoluted Kevin has to actually start selling.

While all of this is interesting to watch, the idea that the planet's climate salvation is going to come from the political arena, one that I held for years, grows weaker by the month for me.

I am starting to think that our necessary salvation is going to come from people themselves - from individuals doing what they have to do to reduce their impact. If the 73% of Australians who are concerned each reduced their annual co2 footprint by 1 tonne, the saving would roughly be 16 millions tonnes. Not shabby, when you consider that a coal-fired power station emits roughly about 1.2 million tones of co2 per annum.

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