Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Climate politics, and a red herring

Articles relating to climate change in the Guardian today are uneven. Hope dries up for Nicaragua's Miskito is more or less below the line advertising for a new Oxfam paper Adapting to climate change: What’s needed in poor countries, and who should pay. (Oxfam says at least $50bn (£25bn) a year in addition to existing aid budgets is needed to help communities like the Miskito adapt to climate change.) The article quotes Nicanor Rizo, a community leader in the Miskito community of Riati on the Rio Coco: "We are a proud people[.] Do you think we want to have to ask for help or depend on handouts from outside agencies?"

All this -- heroic victims with touches of the noble savage to play to unconscious Western stereotypes -- is as fine as far as it goes, but should be read in combination with UK told to pay more for climate change which gives a little more detail on some key money questions and a useful report from WWF on energy efficiency.

But Our blind faith in oil growth could bring the economy crashing down is not up to the columnist's standards (or of some other articles on the UK energy white paper) The idea of general economic collapse due scarce or expensive oil is misguided, as study of the 1970s oil shocks and the options for fuel conversion shows. The Stern Review (part three) is almost certainly right on this if not everything else when it states:
Increasing scarcity of fossil fuels alone will not stop emissions growth in time. The stocks of hydrocarbons that are profitable to extract (under current policies) are more than enough to take the world to levels of CO2 concentrations well beyond 750ppm, with very dangerous consequences for climate-change impacts.

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