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[Op-Ed] Climate Change Dictionary

Posted December. 17, 2009 09:31,   


The U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen is at the center of global attention. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned that failure to reach an agreement will bring an economic catastrophe equal to the combined damage caused by World War I and II. Everyone seems to agree that unless swift action is taken on climate change, the fall of the earth is inevitable. Under this atmosphere, questioning the credibility of the climate change threat is difficult. New York University Professor Tunku Varadarajan, however, has done just that. While compiling climate change terms on the Internet media site Daily Beast, he indirectly spoke on behalf of climate change skeptics.

In his dictionary, “A” is for “anthropogenic,” meaning manmade. Not every climatologist says global warming is a manmade phenomenon. Some blame climate change on a shift by the earth’s axis while others say world temperatures have not necessarily risen from the levels of tens of thousands years ago. “B” is for Bjorn Lomborg, an environmental scientist who says failure at the Copenhagen summit will be a success for the world. He claims that investing in the development of carbon-free energy sources is more cost-effective than pouring 27 trillion euro in tax money every year into efforts to lower world temperatures by two degrees Celsius by 2100.

“C” stands for “Climate-gate,” and this term has fueled controversy. Hackers say e-mail messages of scientists at the University of East Anglia`s Climate Research Unit either manipulated or hid data on global warming. People often present different interpretations of the same phenomenon. Uncertainty is also a mainstay of science. So this is why some say global cooling is more ominous than global warming.

Varadarajan ended his dictionary with “Z” for “zeitgeist,” saying fruitful results in the Copenhagen summit will be impossible without zeitgeist (spirit of the times). With a day to go before the conclusion of the summit, pessimism is growing that world leaders will fail to reach a consensus. The problem is once again “ABC,” or America, Beijing and compact. Due to disagreement between the U.S. and China over verifying the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement will not come at this meeting. The earth, however, will continue to turn.

Editorial Writer Kim Soon-deok (yuri@donga.com)