Here’s a letter I recently had published in the South China Morning Post, in response to an opinion piece from the grandiose sounding International Policy Network.
Given this, Okonski’s claim of “biases” – towards global warming “alarmism” – resulting from funding by “powerful interest groups” is ludicrous. Her piece is riddled with cherry picked facts, half truths, or worse.
It’s immensely deceptive to claim, “The science of climate change remains hotly contested.” No, it does not; witness the standpoints of august bodies such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Britain’s Royal Society, and our own Hong Kong Observatory. Among all but a tiny minority of actual scientists, there is no longer debate over whether warming due to greenhouse gases is real – instead, any debates are now over just how severe it will be, and what measures are needed to ensure we don’t devastate the world as we know it.
Okonski asserts the International Government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “is also biased towards alarmism” – which is curious, given that some of the more alarming forecasts of scientists have been removed during the editing process. She appears oblivious to the fact that some observed changes – such as melting of Arctic ice, and expansion of the Tropics, have proceeded more swiftly than in even some of the more alarming forecasts.
While noting the number of people killed by weather disasters has fallen since good records began, Okonski fails to mention vastly improved warning systems, and Oxfam’s report that the number of number of natural disasters has increased fourfold since two decades ago.
With no scientific foundation whatsoever, Okonski claims the best thing to do about climate change is adapting, while helping people create wealth. Here, she is seemingly blinded to the obvious: if the worst of climate change predictions come true, adaptation will prove impossible for countless people, and there will be widespread economic reversals.
Overall, it seems Okonski’s piece stems from fear of doing the right thing, and adopting measures that economists have suggested could cost 1 percent of world income. With climate change real, the outcomes uncertain yet potentially devastating, it is alarming to read calls for yet more procrastination.