In an editorial article published in Nature yesterday the outcomes of the most recent international summit on climate change are discussed, and it makes for a grim read . First we had the Kyoto Protocol, then the Bali Road Map, followed by the Copenhagen Accord, and now the Durban Platform. As a society we largely ignored the protocol, got lost on the road despite the map, and then held discordant views regarding the responsibilities of individual nations. Is the current ‘platform’ the one beneath the hangman’s noose?
Science communication, while looked as an inconvenience by some, is of VITAL importance. As climate scientists we are well aware, and in no doubt, that the climate is changing and this change is significantly influenced by anthropogenic inputs. Even the policy makers agree that we are committed to 2 ºC warming….. but perhpas we can get away with 4 ºC . I went to a very sobering lecture by Will Steffen from the ANU’s Climate Change Institute. One example he gave for the reality of a 4 ºC warming was that the runways at Brisbane Airport would be underwater. While so many climate change summits reduce to wrangling over the “cost” of action, how do you think the Australian pubic will respond to an “eeek our infrastructure is underwater” tax? But I digress.
My point is that scientists of the 21st century have a duty to make more of an effort to ensure that the science we understand can be understood by others, so the cost of inaction can be better understood.
Time to get off the soap box and head for the platform….