Als Skeptiker verfolgt man die Klimawandel-Debatte insofern aufmerksam als man nicht einer Hysterie aufsitzen will, die so gerne von den Medien geschürt wird. Nicholas Stern scheint mir aber gute Argumente bei der Hand zu haben, warum man politisches Handeln in dieser Frage nicht mehr auf die lange Bank schieben soll:

At the same time, we must recognize that predictions must be in terms of risks, uncertainties, and probabilities. There is uncertainty about future emissions, about the possibilities of absorption of greenhouse gases by the land, forests, and oceans, about the magnitude of warming from changes in greenhouse gas levels, and about the effects on local climates around the world. The issue for policy is how to manage risk, taking account of strong scientific evidence that the risks are potentially very large. These are not small probabilities of something nasty, but large probabilities of something catastrophic.

To deny the urgency of strong action in the face of all the evidence is unscientific, irrational, and dangerous. It is unscientific because it dismisses sound science and evidence built over a long period. It is irrational because such denial would require more than just querying some aspects of the science. It would require great confidence both that the scientific findings are wrong and that the risks are small, since the consequences of being mistaken in assuming that the science is right or that it is wrong would be very different.

Acting as if the scientific evidence were wrong would lead us to concentrations of carbon dioxide carrying immense risks if the science were right. Acting as if the scientific findings were right might lead us to excessive investment in developing low-carbon technologies and protecting forests if the findings turned out to be wrong; but these actions are nevertheless likely to have very substantial other benefits in energy security, energy efficiency, biodiversity, and so on. Finally, denying the urgency of strong action is dangerous because the process by which emissions become concentrated has a ratchet effect, and delay in action results in higher concentrations and a more difficult “starting point.”

There is much more scientific work to do, and many uncertainties are likely to remain, but the evidence is overwhelming that the risks are large and that delay will be dangerous. The weight of this theory and evidence is no doubt why those who deny that greenhouse gases cause climate change have to resort to tactics similar to those used a few decades ago to dispute the impact of smoking on health. One such tactic is to find one or two weak or erroneous scientific papers among the many thousands of good ones and use them as an implied smear on all the rest. Another is to make use of the irrational argument that the remaining uncertainties imply that the best hypothesis is to assume that the risks are negligible. Another is to try to deliberately confuse trends and cycles. There will be cycles and random events but the underlying trend is strong. And as in the case of smoking, there are powerful vested interests ready to fund the sowing of the seeds of doubt.

(Quelle: New York Review of Books No. 11/2010)

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