Climate change

Updated: 25 March 2010, 03:33

Originally written: 03 February 2007

In the first-released section of its Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that global warming is reality. The IPCC Summary for Policymakers states:

In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

Furthermore, it is very likely that the 20th century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea level rise, through thermal expansion of sea water and widespread loss of land ice. Within present uncertainties, observations and models are both consistent with a lack of significant acceleration of sea level rise during the 20th century.

An expanded version of the summary report is also available.

Referring to the current century (2001-2100), the report tells us: Those who tell us that global warming is not occurring, or that it is not caused by human activity, have often pointed out that climate models are inaccurate and that recent studies do not support the allegation that human activity significantly affects global warming.

The IPCC tells us now:

Since the release of the Second Assessment Report (SAR), additional data from new studies of current and palaeoclimates, improved analysis of data sets, more rigorous evaluation of their quality, and comparisons among data from different sources have led to greater understanding of climate change.

and that

The SAR concluded: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”. That report also noted that the anthropogenic signal was still emerging from the background of natural climate variability. Since the SAR, progress has been made in reducing uncertainty, particularly with respect to distinguishing and quantifying the magnitude of responses to different external influences. Although many of the sources of uncertainty identified in the SAR still remain to some degree, new evidence and improved understanding support an updated conclusion.

The current report also says: Capitalism’s Gravediggers notes, as it has before, that it has no special knowledge of climate science. Capitalism’s Gravediggers notes again, that it appears that most climate scientists agree that humans are responsible, at least in part, for global warming.

Those scientists could be wrong. If they are correct, and ignored, the results are likely to be disastrous.

Particularly frightening is that the scientists report that “anthropogenic climate change will persist for many centuries” after humans address the causes. That means that yesterday’s CO2 will affect us for generations, and we still have not dealt with today’s CO2.

Even Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and U.S. President George Bush, appear to be jumping on the global warming bandwagon. It appears that the electorate, again, is forcing the politicians to at least pretend to act.

But that is the problem. They pretend to act. The previous Liberal Party governments of Canada pretended to support the Kyoto accord, but greenhouse gas emissions in Canada increased steadily, rather than declining. So, instead of six percent below 1990 levels, the Liberals were kicked out of office after permitting the emissions to increase by about 35 percent.

Because the government must govern for the capitalist class, and because most people strongly support capitalism, any attempt to address the problem must compete with capitalism’s need for increasing profit. For years we have been told, especially by people such as Stephen Harper, and influential newspapers such as the National Post, that any attempt to actually reduce production of greenhouse gases would be economic suicide.

Environmentalists have talked about economic benefits of dealing with greenhouse gases. Their explanations have been unconvincing.

Any serious attempt, under capitalism, to deal with the problem will be extremely expensive, adding to the cost of production, and perhaps forcing certain production to end, along with any related jobs. Even if capitalism does attempt to deal with the problems, eventually, it will be too little, too late, as always.

A socialist society will have huge advantages when dealing with global warming and other pollution. For example, establishing socialism would mean eliminating the need for war. That would mean that the production for war could cease, immediately, along with any attendant global warming caused by that production. There are also other, much more obvious, benefits to ending war.

Unlike today, a socialist society will not have to beg the rich to choose safer technology. We will simply choose the best, because there will be no profit motive to interfere with common sense.

Perhaps it is already too late to correct the damage to our ecosystem. The choice is simple: give up and slide further into oblivion, or establish an economic structure and social organisation which will permit us to use our common sense, and enable a solution.
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