Tim Flannery -- Making waves about weather

Canada's investigative journalism magazine, W5, did a recent expose on Canadian climate change skeptics. Of these, many are paid by the oil and gas industry, many have not published recently in peer-reviewed scientific journals and some are linked to the same American publicity firm that tobacco companies hired to question evidence linking smoking with health risks.

There is no direct link to this story on the CTV webpage but there are many other stories exploring different global warming issues, notably Canada's decision to emulate the U.S. stance on the Kyoto accord.

In response to the false debate which has clouded the issue in the media , Tim Flannery's book takes a conservative (in the politically neutral sense) look at climate change science. He demystifies predictions and measurements made by mainstream scientists and suggests practical solutions.

I am still reading The Weather Makers: How we are changing the climate and what it means for life on earth, but I thought I would post a quote or two.

Flannery's book explains that the scientific practice of publishing calculations with a margin of error makes these findings more legitimate, not less so. A calculated degree of doubt does not excuse inaction.

Flannery says we are "committed" to a certain increase in habitat loss, extreme weather and climate change already, because of atmospheric CO2 accumulated since the industrial revolution. This CO2 is not going to go away.

The question is not if there will be damage but how great the damage will be and whether the earth's warming will escape our control as various heating effects create feedback loops which reinforce each other. Like I said, you have to read the book to check out effects such as loss of albedo and altered ocean currents.

Flannery explains the science with nuance, but in layman's terms. Despite potential disaster, he remains hopeful that we can avert the worst.


"...if we act now it lies within our power to save two species for every one that is currently doomed. If we carry on with business as usual, in all likelihood three out of every five species will not be with us at the dawn of the next century."

"... Earth's average temperature is around 15°C and whether we allow it to rise by a single degree, or 3°C, will decide the fate of hundreds and thousands of species, and most probably billions of people. Never in the history of humanity has there been a cost-benefit analysis that demands greater scrutiny."

Tim Flannery, The Weather Makers: How we are changing the climate and what it means for life on earth, 2005.

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