Climate Change We Can Believe In…

Security is really random around here. i didn’t get into some events half of the time, although my pass indicates that I should have. Danish police, who I found to be really helpful during my previous visits, are being overwhelmed. They had been put under enough tension to be like a caged animal repeated being taunted. They fired some tear gas yesterday, and before that, had been arresting people left and right.

At least, that kept some people out of streets. There are a lot of people here, most of them here probably to get free stuff from the NGOs. We are talking about the environment here, but I see a lot of scientific papers being printed and distributed. I couldn’t help thinking how many trees we might save hadn’t they print…

Well, why am I being a hypocrite here, ‘cause despite my determination to the contrary, the pile of papers in my room grew ever bigger as the conference goes on. Nearly 90% of them I will never read, and I glanced at the remaining 10% only while waiting in line or on the metro.

Yesterday, I ranted a little about the tactlessness of scientists in tackling the climategate. Today, I want to rant a little about the use and misuse of numbers. Some misguided blogs are hailing China’s bold initiative to cut the emission intensity of its economy by 40 to 45% by 2020. The percent figures are no doubt big, but we are talking about “intensity”, a measure of carbon dioxide emissions per unit production (not the entire industry) here. In fact, China’s emissions will increase by nearly 50% through this ‘bold’ plan.

Russia on the other hand had pledged 25- 35% total reduction by 2020. But please bear in mind that this is from 1990 levels, that back then, the inefficient Soviet industry was still running. Therefore, by pledging 30% reductions from 1990 levels, Russia’s much-shrunk industry today can pollute 30% than it is polluting today. Dieu Merci.

The Obama plan in the United States is also misrepresented—the 17% reduction the Congress can approve are from 2005 levels, and if you measure it with the 1990 levels, it is only 3-4% reduction. Also, China’s repeated finger-pointing of the West as ‘rich, developed’ nations baffles me. The West maybe developed, but rich it isn’t. The irony is that China owns a lot of US debt and therefore is richer than the US.

On tomorrow night, there will be a gala dinner for world leaders hosted by the Queen of Denmark. I hope I can sneak into that a la those White House partycrashers.


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