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Deep Pessimism on climate change issue.

29 Nov 2010

The Irish Times

Despair, bordering on panic, attends today's opening of the Cancún conference, writes FRANK McDONALD

NOBODY EXPECTS much to emerge from the latest UN climate change conference which opens today in the Mexican resort of Cancún. Unlike all the hype that preceded last year's Copenhagen summit, it has barely registered in the public consciousness. And in any case, people are preoccupied by more pressing issues.

Environmentalist John Gibbons, who blogs on, says there is "no doubt but that climate change has fallen off the public agenda compared with, say, 12 months ago. Then, there was cautious optimism pre-Copenhagen. And Obama still looked like he might deliver on "cap-and-trade" [in carbon emissions].

That was then . . .

Now, he senses "an enormous sense of frustration, bordering on despair, in both the 'traditional' and 'pragmatic' environmental camps. Despair in some quarters is bordering on panic, as the numbers keep getting worse and worse". For example, average temperatures in Greenland went up by 3.8-8.8 degrees last winter.

This was "way ahead of projections" by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As a result, the New York Times reported on November 13th, many scientists now say that the melting glaciers will cause sea levels to rise by nearly one metre by 2100, and this "would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over".

The year drawing to a close has been marked by "extreme weather events", such as the record-breaking heatwave in Moscow last July and August when temperatures soared to nearly 40 degrees, or the monsoon floods in Pakistan, which submerged nearly a fifth of the country, affecting the lives of 20 million people.

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