Twenty Years of Climate Meetings, Through the Eyes of a Veteran Journalist

By Veronique Greenwood | December 14, 2011 1:02 pm

The most important climate meeting of the year, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Convention of Parties in Durban, South Africa, has just concluded, with the US envoy “relieved” by the results, but developing countries frustrated by the failure of developed nations to take greater responsibility for emissions. At Nature News, Frank MacDonald, a veteran reporter who has attended nearly every Convention of Parties meeting since they began in 1992, recounts his experiences as a spectator on the edge of the climate poker game:

Nearly 20 years ago, as I wandered as a newspaper reporter from tent to tent at the Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro’s Flamingo Park, with young, idealistic environmental activists milling about, I couldn’t help thinking of Dale Arden’s line from the film Flash Gordon, a decade before: “Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!”

Brazil’s 1992 Earth Summit was in full swing, and when it closed it even seemed that we would manage to save the world from global warming, and species extinction too. After all, delegates at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development — as it was officially known — had just adopted two conventions to stave off these threats.

Read more at Nature News.

  • Wil

    An article like this one should not be in a science-themed website.

    Saying (in effect): the Earth is slightly warmer than it has been in the very recent past. Therefore we are all dead soon, and there can not possibly be any cause for it other than a slightly higher atmospheric CO2 concentration (which is still at trace levels).

    That is not science, or anything like it.

    Most interested, informed people are well aware that the Earth’s historical atmospheric average temperature has been dramatically hotter and colder than it is today, and that the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been dramatically higher and lower than it is today. They are also aware that no correlation, let alone causation, has been demonstrated between these two factors in the entire long history of our planet.

    The Climategate e-mails showed top scientists in this field knowingly lying, destroying climate data, falsifying climate data, deleting and dishonestly editing scientific articles, and destroying the careers of fellow scientists merely for having different opinions. And these scientists were communicating thinking that their e-mails were permanently and completely confidential, so they had every reason to truly express what they were actually thinking and doing.

    People like Mr. MacDonald willfully and self-righteously ignore these critical facts because they very much want to. Human-caused global warming is their sacred religion, and there really isn’t much that anybody can say or do to reach them on this topic.

  • Steven

    Wil, your cognitive dissonance is amazing. For you to be correct then just about every scientist in every field in all of the word must be in on the scam.

    Seriously, the evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming. Take a look at all of the articles in the peer-reviewed literature.

    The “Climategate” allegations are simply conspiracy theorizing. If you’ve got any verifiable, peer-reviewed evidence that shows anthropogenic climate change is incorrect, then please make sure you present it.

  • Karl

    Oh Wil… Bravo!!! BRAVO!!! This is getting to be like an extended episode of the Twilight Zone. Alarm bells are sounding in the minds of the logical and clear thinking and they are being ridiculed. I think it’s getting creepy. I never comment on threads but I like your clarity Wil. Science will prevail in the long run and we must ALL keep an open mind but the tactics being deployed by the MM warming movement is disturbing. The masses blindly seduced by these tactics is even more disturbing to me though. Nice job Wil.

  • Mark

    Wil – thank you for succinctly and eloquently stating your opinion on this.

    It is refreshing to read open mindedness and questioning on the issue of anthropogenic global warming.

    You’re referring to censorship when you refer to “deniers” being shouted down. It turns into an emotional shouting match typically because the environment and climate change have essentially been politicized.

    Once that happens, honest intellectual debate can no longer occur. I salute your efforts, unfortunately most who do believe in AGW are not open minded enough to hear an opposing point of view without throwing a tantrum or shouting you down.

    Soldier on!

  • Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)

    OK, one climate-denier comment was more than enough for this thread. @Wil, human-caused global warming isn’t climate scientists’ sacred religion, it’s the strongest explanation we have for the observed change in temperatures on Earth, and Climategate didn’t do anything to change that. Several investigations have cleared the climate researchers of any substantial wrongdoing, and recent climate studies have confirmed that the Earth is warming and that human action is likely the big reason for that. Until/unless there’s some real evidence that that’s wrong, we don’t want climate-denier rants on this site. Take them elsewhere.

  • Karl

    I didn’t rant. Who is we? I was just applauding Wil.

  • Tony

    I totally agree with Wil.

  • Old Gringo Stan

    The UN is the theater of the absurd….always has been, will continue to be…….

  • Wilson

    Since the beginning, there have been control freaks, and there have been lemmings.

    Religions, Sun Kings, Nazis, Communists, we have had them all. They insisted on making the rules for everybody else.

    What allowed civilization to survive these false and repressive theologies was “enlightened self interest”. Scepticism, though often at great cost, ultimately prevailed.

    But they are still with us. The ones who thought they could control human nature, who now think they can control the very planets.

    Beware these false gods, the true “deniers”, who insist you look at the world through their flawed lens. They would deny you the freedom to make your own choices. They’ll take your hard earned wealth by force to spend on their own failed ideologies.

    Long live the “sceptics”, Da Vinci, Galileo, Einstein, Bhor and the rest, who refused to believe that “the science was settled”.

  • Karl

    And a sincere and earnest bravo to you also Wilson. May your light of good-natured skepticism gently push back against the murky grayness of accepted knowledge. May the muddled fogginess of group thinking succumb to the clear and piercing rays of your unbiased reasoning.

  • Geack

    Holy crap, this climate thing really brings out the crazy in people. Why is it so hard for some to accept that the vast majority of climate scientists are just following the data, exactly the way “Da Vinci, Galileo, Einstein, Bhor (Bohr?)…” taught them to? That’s what “skepticism” means – following the data. Whatever your politics, can we please stop pretending that this is some case of noble mavericks vs an evil priesthood? Seriously, suggesting there’s a parallel between a bunch of meterologists and the court of the Sun King? WTF?


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