Andy Ho shares his greater knowledge on climate change

AndyHo

Straits Times columnist Andy Ho writes about how Singapore should be excluded from making carbon emission cuts in the upcoming COP15.

Way to go in the face of progress!

In his commentary, he makes references to claims that are questionable, such as “9,209 scientists have signed up to www.petition-project.org to reject that global warming is caused by human activities,” but failed to state that the original numbers were collected between 1999 and 2001, and not updated. Plus it was only in 2007 that the petition became active again.

In his commentary he also makes references to Lord Christopher Monckton and Dr Roy Spencer, who are seemingly dead against the idea of humans as a cause of global warming. He also did not mention that they both have close links to think tank Heartland Institute, which has received copious funding from ExxonMobil.

At the end of the day, global warming is very real, and we as a country should be contributing what we can to the global community instead of coming up with excuses. This world is not just ours alone.

A green activist said to me of late, Singapore is a leader in South East Asia and should act like one. A leader doesn’t ask “What’s everyone else doing?”, a leader simply says “I will”.

I would like to end this post by saying that two things. One, we should use our writing constuctively to inform and spur positive changes, and it would greatly help to verify the facts, and therefore not mislead – journalistic integrity counts. Two, it is ultimately our children and hopefully their children, who will inherit the earth, therefore it is in their interests, not ours, to hand it over in the best condition that is possible.

Reasons for Singapore to be cool on global warming

Emissions cap will slow growth while scientific evidence is not clear-cut
Andy Ho, Straits Times 30 Oct 09;

A NEW global warming treaty is set to be signed in Copenhagen come December.

Singapore will face pressure from countries like Japan and Australia to be listed as an AnnexI country, subject to carbon emissions caps. Revealing this at a student forum last week, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore would resist such attempts.

AnnexI comprises industrialised countries that have to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) by 50per cent to 85per cent by 2050. Being an AnnexI country is only a small step away from a subset of AnnexII countries that have to transfer wealth to developing countries for the ‘climate debt’ the latter are owed.

Singapore is not listed on either annex. And it should stay that way. For one thing, it is not yet an OECD country. After all, a tiger economy is still part of the developing world. For another, as MM Lee argued, ‘it’s not possible to just treat (Singapore) like an ordinary country’.

While it has one of the world’s highest emissions per capita, he said, its fuel consumption cannot be cut drastically, as its manufacturing sector lives or dies by it. Much of its carbon emissions comes from manufacturing things for use in other countries, not domestically.

Anyway, as MM Lee once argued, Singapore’s diminutive size means its efforts make little difference to global warming.

In fact, there’s another good reason why the Republic should be slow to sign up to any emissions cap that could slow down the economy: The scientific evidence for and against global warming deserves a full and fair public hearing.

The 2007 consensus statement issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims the support of 2,500 scientists. That number actually includes those who disagreed with parts of it but had no say in the final text.

Climate science is not an exact one yet. In fact, 9,029 scientists have signed up at http://www.petitionproject.org to reject the notion that global warming is largely caused by human activities.

Climate change debate is thus often heated, with public challenges like the one issued in March 2007 by Lord Christopher Monckton, former policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

He took out big advertisements in The New York Times and Washington Post challenging Mr Al Gore to debate him. Mr Gore, who co-won with the IPCC the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his global warming evangelism, did not respond.

With the debate becoming politicised, a dispassionate, neutral forum like Parliament may provide a good platform for the issue to be aired in Singapore. This will educate Singaporeans and also forge a national consensus on the appropriate policies in response to global warming.

Singapore could look at the state of Utah in America, whose state legislators earlier this month invited two meteorologists with opposing views to brief them.

Summing up the consensus view, Dr Jim Steenburgh of the University of Utah said: ‘There is comprehensive evidence well-supported by the scientific community…that increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the global warming…and that it is very unlikely that this warming is produced solely by natural processes.’

Conversely, Dr Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama-Huntsville testified that the consensus view arose from too many scientists fearing to rock the boat, even though the data they depended upon was limited. He argued that natural climate cycles, not human activities, cause climate variations, as 80per cent of the greenhouse effect is attributable not to carbon but water vapour and cloud cover. While low-level clouds provide shade and thus cooler temperatures, high-altitude clouds trap the sun’s infrared heat and thus warm up the earth.

In 2007, Dr Spencer published a study in Geophysical Research Letters using satellite images which showed that global warming leads to not more, but fewer, high-level, heat-trapping clouds. This allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere into outer space, reducing global warming by 75 per cent.

Received wisdom holds that warming of the earth’s surface causes water evaporation. More clouds form in the high altitudes. These trap heat and warm up the earth even more. But Dr Spencer showed that a natural cooling process exists in the upper atmosphere: Global warming leads to fewer of such clouds, so more heat escapes and cooling occurs instead.

Current climate models do not factor in this cooling mechanism. If this mechanism is verified with more empirical evidence, surely one must be circumspect about costly public policy decisions. Global emissions reduction will cost at least US$100billion (S$140billion) a year by 2020. In effect, the Copenhagen treaty promises carbon taxes for all.

In awarding President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize this year, the nominating committee’s citation said: ‘Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role’ in combating global warming. It also asserted that Mr Obama would ‘do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.’

This is patently false, since most people in the Group of 77 (G77) – including populous China and India – would not agree to reducing their use of fossil fuels. They want very much to industrialise because that will lead to material prosperity, just as it has done for the West.

Even in the US, a new Pew Research Centre poll shows that just over a third of voters – down from nearly half last year – now believe that it is human activities which cause global warming.

As December approaches, signs of fray are increasing. In Bangkok in early October, G-77 countries threatened to walk out if drafts leading to Copenhagen included binding commitments. On Oct22, India and China signed an accord to jointly fight off anticipated Western demands.

Western leaders may draft a treaty to manacle their countries. But Singapore should not be bamboozled into following suit.

Andy Ho Commentary taken from Wild Singapore.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Andy Ho shares his greater knowledge on climate change”
  1. Chris Jensen says:

    Even if you’re not convinced that NASA’s leading climate scientists are correct in their predictions on climate change, here’s some other reasons Singapore should cut carbon emissions, and help developing countries to do the same:

    Clean Air – Wouldn’t we all like to see less haze from Indonesia? An investment in helping poorer countries to reduce their carbon problems is an investment in our own health.

    Loss of Ocean life – some of the carbon we are outputting is also being absorbed by oceans, causing damage to coral and ocean life at the bottom of the food chain – putting the entire ocean eco system in danger of collapse. Do you enjoy eating seafood? Then maybe we should invest in preserving the ocean eco system.

    Reduced economic vulnerability – oil, coal and natural gas are finite resources that are rapidly running out. Oil prices are only going to continue to rise – meaning the prices of everything that depends on oil (including food) will also rise. If we cut our dependance on these resources, we make our economy less vulnerable to price spikes.

    Economic growth – cutting carbon actually doesn’t equal cutting growth. Texas Instruments saved 30% of their capital by building one (yes, just one) sustainably designed wafer factory, and now save $3 million per year on utility costs at that same factory.

    The real question is, what’s the cost of being wrong? We can support the climate change believers – if they’re wrong, we get a sustainable economy where people around the world live with cleaner air and water – or we can support the climate change doubters, and do nothing – if they’re wrong, we get air we can’t breathe, a world so hot there is no ice, and sea levels rising by up to 40 meters.

    Which of these worlds do you want to live in?

  2. limko says:

    I gotta agree with Andy Ho on this one, you guys are not seeing the bigger picture.

  3. Olivia says:

    Care to elaborate, limko? What is the big picture to you?

    That it’s okay to write an inaccurate article using back dated information stating that scientists can’t agree on the causes of climate change? When in actual fact, a majority of 97% American scientists agree that climate change is man made?

    Or is the big picture that climate change is real and we should do something about it now?

    I think it is myopic for Andy to be writing an article like that, giving unconstructive criticism instead of giving real solutions.

    Solutions carry far more weight than hot air.

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