Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Paying the price of UNFCCC failure

with 11 comments

Photo credit: Greenpeace International

I have been somewhat pre-occupied with the task of ending my unemployment recently.  However, I found myself pondering the above subject on my drive home from a couple of job interviews in London yesterday.

I know I have blogged about the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) before (and the Kyoto Protocol to which it led in 1997); and – in particular – how we (all human beings on this planet) are now so clearly in breach of Article 2 of the UNFCCC:

The ultimate objective of this Convention… is to achieve… the… stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.  

However, driving from London to my home in the NW of England yesterday on part of the UK’s motorway network, I was astonished to see almost every single river valley covered by floodwater.  Some parts of the UK have been very wet this year (bringing to an end a record-breaking 18-month drought).  However, on the 180-mile journey home yesterday, I was really impressed by the fact that – as the BBC have reported – this flooding is now affecting such a large part of the country.

Meteorologists and climate scientists have a phrase for what we are witnessing – it’s Global Weirding.  I believe James Hansen spoke for the majority of reputable climate scientists when, in August this year, he provided irrefutable historical statistical evidence for a reality that atmospheric physics has made inevitable:

A warming atmosphere containing more moisture more of the time will lead – and has led – to the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events of all kinds.

I think all decent human beings owe it to their children and grandchildren to face up to the facts of history; and accept the nature of reality:

So-called “climate sceptics” (i.e. those ideologically prejudiced against admitting human activity is responsible for any and all environmental degradation) have dismissed the warnings of climate scientists over several decades as attempts to justify and perpetuate research funding.  In a vain attempt to prevent having to pay for the environmental cost of its pollution, the fossil fuel industry, like the tobacco industry before it, has denied that it is the cause of the problem for decades…  They have sought to perpetuate doubt and uncertainty; and have even accused climate scientists of crying “wolf”…  However, the truth of the matter is that much more money has been spent denying science than has been spent on research and, just as it did in the morality tale, the wolf has now turned up.

What I really object to is that my children and grandchildren are going to be the main ones that have to pay the price for the shortsightedness of fossil fuel executives who have succeeded in ensuring the UNFCCC has achieved absolutely nothing.

Over the last 20 years of UNFCCC meetings, there has been a great deal of talk and very little action.  Despite Hurricane Sandy and President Obama’s fine words on the night of his re-election this month, I suspect COP18 in Doha (starting next week) will be no different:  Sadly, I think real action will only start to be taken when events like Hurricane Sandy become an annual occurrence.

Therefore, although I do not wish such things on anyone, I suspect I may look forward to concerted action becoming a reality before the end of this decade.  By then, as any decent insurance company will admit to you, it is now very likely that we will all be paying the price of the failure of the UNFCCC process.

Written by Martin Lack

23 November 2012 at 00:02

11 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hi Martin, I think you will find we are all paying for climate change now. Local farmers I know have lost potato crops [market price has doubled from £90 tonne last year to £220]- a 20% loss in cereals- and been feeding expensive [oil intensive] cake to sheep because the grass is so poor. But like the floods it is all relative.

    I have officially got a new job, I cleared the medical and I’m off to do more training with the E.U. volunteer project [part of the Lisbon Treaty] to offer agricultural training and do research into the effects of climate change on subsistence farming. Its in the SW corner of Bangladesh in a very poor Hindu district. It is the first to get hit by meltwaters from the Himalayas, the first to suffer cyclones and has an increasingly unpredictable dry season.

    And to top it all the egress of seawater caused by human and natural factors causes salination of the soil. All for about £40 a week. The research should be interesting but I need to team up with a statistician to figuire out what question could be asked and what data can be collected. [suggestions?]

    I expect a mega flood whilst there, they are due one so I have a full survival kit and portable film studio and I will be posting video and blogs from the climate front line on

    What was that about interesting times?
    Good luck with the job hunting Martin, but if you ever want to work for £40 a week in the dust the EU is looking for people to help in South Sudan.



    23 November 2012 at 01:35

    • Thanks Jules. I think you will find that this was exactly my point (although perhaps I did not make it clearly enough?): We are all paying the price for the failure of World leaders to implement cuts in CO2 emissions via the UNFCCC. What worries me most now, though, is Schalk Cloete’s assertion that it is the high price of fossil fuels that is making economic recovery near impossible. I say this because, I think our only salvation lies in fossil fuels being prohibitively expensive: That is the only way people will be persuaded to change their behaviour.

      Congratulations on officially getting the job. Even if only a ‘snapshot’ survey; you need to ask a question that can be repeated in a year or ten years time. I guess that, in a poor area with poor governance and/or no public records office, you might be best asking about people’s perception rather than necessarily facts: How many people do they know that have drowned as a result of river bank erosion in the last 12 months? Do they think the floods are getting worse or more frequent? How many people have left their village to move away from the River?

      Martin Lack

      23 November 2012 at 10:38

  2. Dear Mr.Lack Hurricanes such as “Sandy” have been more than annual events for millennia.Twice in my sea-going career they very nearly claimed my life.They are nothing new and their intensity has not increased.This observation does not place me among the “deniers”.Simply a statement of fact.


    23 November 2012 at 08:21

    • Utterly ridiculous assertions from start to finish. Hurricane Sandy may not have had record-breaking wind speeds but, in every other respect, it was unprecedented; an almost unique coincidence of events. I think you need to check your facts. You may want to start with the FAQ section of the NOAA website:
      How many tropical cyclones have there been each year in the Atlantic basin? What years were the greatest and fewest seen?

      Martin Lack

      23 November 2012 at 10:22

    • Dear Duncan, perhaps spending so much time at sea is denying you access to the facts. For example, get Martin to publish the link to the recent BBC TV programme about Hurricane Sandy. Or the “unprecendented superstorm” as the BBC called it.

      Paul Handover

      23 November 2012 at 14:11

      • Thanks for the reminder, Paul. You are now the second person to tell me I should watch Sandy: Analysis of a Hurricane. However, if it was on the BBC, why is it not listed on their iPlayer website…?

        Martin Lack

        23 November 2012 at 14:27

        • why is it not listed on their iPlayer website…?

          Possibly for the same reason that ‘Climate Wars’ isn’t available anywhere (despite the BBC’s website suggesting that it is). Such things lead me to suspect that someone at the BBC who has influence over such things is a climate change denier in league with those who wish to perpetuate the myth that we’re all right, Jack. But of course, such a position makes me a conspiracy theorist, and so, by opening my mouth, I’ve shot myself in the foot.


          23 November 2012 at 15:08

        • Ah yes, Climate Wars – recorded that when last on the Eden Channel. Excellent stuff. As for conspiracy theorisation; it might well be true. It is, at very least, much more likely than global climate scientists banding together to create a false alarm in order to secure endless finance for their research.

          Martin Lack

          23 November 2012 at 19:34

        • Are you sure? It was clearly shown on iPlayer a couple of days ago.

          Paul Handover

          24 November 2012 at 14:31

        • @Paul: I’m sure that whenever I’ve looked on the BBC website for Climate Wars, I’ve never been able to find it. As always: happy to be proven wrong. The closest I can ever seem to get is a page like this that claims

          Available on: DVD or Blu-ray
          From suppliers including: Amazon, BBC Shop
          Where to buy

          … you’ll note that the ‘Where to buy’ link takes you to a page headed ‘Earth: the Climate Wars’ but that actually offers similar sounding titles, not Climate Wars.

          No doubt a ‘simple mistake’. Plausible deniability: wonderful stuff.

          (Incidentally, Earth: The Power Of The Planet‘ is a good series — but that’s not the point. And I did find Climate Wars on YouTube a while back, and grabbed copies using, but that’s not the point either…)


          24 November 2012 at 18:28

  3. I can’t find ‘Sandy: Analysis of a Hurricane‘ on iPlayer either.

    On Virgin Media Channel 230 (National Geographic) at 21:00 last evening was screened a programme:

    Superstorm New York‘, I missed most of it due to distraction, I have become familiar with the general history and effect of this demonstration of weather on steroids over the ensuing days, but the narrator managed to screw the audience with this bit of oft repeated nonsense:

    Not all scientists agree on what causes climate change.

    Oh! Dear!

    Lionel A

    24 November 2012 at 18:07

Please join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: