Has anyone heard lately about the issue of climate change and the developments after the much-hyped conference in Copenhagen last December to save the fate of the Earth and human race?

Not much, and the reason for failure in the climate change debate is the way its proponents turned to extremism and their refusal for a long time to accept other views or even to accept compromises as steps to move forward.

It even turns out now that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has fudged and exaggerated some reports in order to drive politicians to make decisions in certain directions.

Since the early days of IPCC, scientists who doubted the phenomenon of man-made climate change or even those who had a more modest opinion about its magnitude or impact were castigated and not given sufficient funds to pursue their research and denied a platform to voice their views.

The advocates on the other side were often treated with reverence though their demands to counter climate change were often described as draconian.

But something is happening now as the extent of manipulation of the reports is finally coming out in the open and as more and more sceptical scientists are being heard.

The IPCC scientist who is in charge of collating weather data from observation stations around the world has "admitted that he has trouble keeping track of the information" as the Daily Mail reported on February 14. Professor Jones, who is at the centre of what is now called "Climategate", has stepped down from his post as director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit whose output apparently goes straight into IPCC reports. He has been accused by the sceptics' camp of manipulating the data after the original paper records were claimed to be lost.

Professor Jones, under pressure, admitted to the BBC that there has been no global warming since 1995 and that it is possible that the world was warmer in medieval times than now.

Increasing numbers

One can go on and on about other mistakes or exaggerations or missing data in stories that are gradually coming out and the claim that climate-change science is settled and that sceptics are only a handful is no longer believable.

They are coming out in increasing numbers and some of them have even served previously on the IPCC but can no longer take it.

It will not be possible after recent revelations to continue the threats and intimidation of scientists who are simply voicing different opinions as being paid by the energy companies. It is also about time the media stopped hyping the issue by giving an equal chance to all shades of opinions.

How can we in the developing countries accept policies based on such a process when it is demanding so many changes in our lives and economies for generations to come? How can the oil producers for instance forgo their livelihood of oil revenues by a perceived threat yet to be honestly demonstrated to us?

Flawed thinking

The problem is that hype sometimes even goes to the heads of reasonable people. In a recent article in Hydrocarbon Processing a respectable commentator who is rightly concerned about climate change accused Dubai of building "the most carbon intensive attractions" and that Dubai "has produced the innovative chilled swimming pool, a shopping mall ski resort and a desalinated irrigation for a golf course".

I may not be a fan of all these facilities which are mostly frequented by people from the commentator's domain, but I would like to ask, as far as climate change is concerned, what the difference is between a chilled swimming pool in Dubai and a heated one in Europe or the USA? And, would he suggest that Dubai simply throws the clarified sewer water away rather than using it to improve its environment? And why does he not ask Canada to cancel the Winter Olympics for the number of snow making machines there?

With such biased attitudes we will never get anywhere.


The writer is former head of the Energy Studies Department at the Opec Secretariat in Vienna