James Lovelock, Bjorn Lomborg, Zac Goldsmith and other scientists, politicians and negotiators argue about why the climate change summit is importantby Various / October 21, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
“We are as incapable of saving the planet as a goat is of being a gardener”
James Lovelock, scientist
Copenhagen is not far from Munich. Let us not make a greater mistake than was made 71 years ago. We suspect that dangerous climate change may soon be due, but with no more confidence than we had in 1938 about the second world war. A few lone voices, like that of James Hansen, warn that CO2 is 390ppm and rising, which places the earth in unexplored territory, something that is unprecedented in over 2m years of history.
Copenhagen will be infested by ideologues and political and commercial lobbies aiming for short-term profit; it will be tempting to assume that a green yet profitable environmental business policy is all we need. This could not be more wrong: human survival itself is at risk.
There may be little that we can do but adapt to climate change; we are as incapable of “saving the planet” as a goat is of being a gardener. But, through our nascent intelligence and communication, we are a valued evolutionary step for the Earth; our emergence could be compared in significance with that of those tiny organisms who used sunlight to make oxygen. It has taken Gaia 3.5bn years to evolve humans. It would be sad for her to lose us through our own stupidity.
“We need to get serious about smarter technological solutions, not cuts”
Bjorn Lomborg, author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”
Copenhagen does matter. Climate is a public good, and we all have a stake in a sensible outcome. Unfortunately, politicians are focusing on promising drastic carbon cuts. Kyoto showed that these promises will go unfulfilled because cutting carbon without a viable replacement is incredibly challenging. When it is feasible, it is a hugely expensive way of doing a tiny amount of good. Look at Germany, which pays €120bn (£110bn) in subsidies for solar panels that will postpone warming by one hour…