Bishop Hill has an interesting comparison of two perspectives on the climate debate.
In his Radio 5 interview, James Delingpole correctly framed the argument over AGW as being over (a) how large the effect is (b) how much warming there will be and (c) how much of a problem it is.
Vicky Pope at the Met Office has taken a different approach in an article in the Guardian today.
Indeed she has. Whatever you want to say about Delingpole’s style and politics, his three questions about climate change are faultless. And as this blog has attempted to say (perhaps more verbosely), is that the third question – how much of a problem [climate change] is – is one which is not a question for science alone. Indeed, how much of a problem we believe it is all rather depends on how dependent one believes we are on natural processes.
Here, for instance, is an instance of unmitigated bullshit being spoken about climate change, reproduced entirely uncritically the Guardian:
Water wars could be a real prospect in coming years as states struggle with the effects of climate change, growing demand for water and declining resources, the secretary of state for energy and climate change warned on Thursday.
Ed Davey told a conference of high-ranking politicians and diplomats from around the world that although water had not been a direct cause of wars in the past, growing pressure on the resource if climate change is allowed to take hold, together with the pressure on food and other resources, could lead to new sources of conflict and the worsening of existing conflicts.
There is so much that anyone, left or right, could say about Ed Davey’s specious claim. There is no shortage of water in the world. End of. There may be local shortages of water. So the first question is, then, relates to whether climate change is a global problem, or are the consequences (i.e. problems) of climate change regional? Obviously, they are regional. If problems ever do materialise as a consequence of climate change, they will be different in any given place. Second, If the means exist to move water from A to B, then the problem is not one of ‘how to deal with climate change’, but merely ‘how do we organise getting water from A to B’. If the means don’t exist, then the problem is not climate change; the problem is ‘why does this economy not have enough capital to invest in vital infrastructure’. There is enough water in the world, and there is surely plenty of capital, and plenty of opportunity to make more. Climate change is not the problem in any sensible reading of Ed Davey’s speculation. It is just that he is a Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change that he sees — or rather, imagines — problems in the world to each be problems of climate change. Of course he does. Water shortage is a problem for people with or without climate change. But it is one which has very little to do with the climate.
But back to the two ways of seeing the debate…