13 November 2002

Global warning

An eminent American academic came to Sydney last week to alert us to an ongoing war, one in which nothing less than our entire way of life is at stake, writes Michael Hutak.

Dr Stephen Schneider - adviser to every US president from Nixon to Clinton - arrived to spread the news not about global terror, but global warming.
With the issue of climate change hotting up, concerned citizens collected at the University of NSW in Sydney last Thursday to hear the accomplished "greenhouse guru" spell out the planetary consequences of the industrialised world's love affair with coal-fired production.
However, as one of the lead authors of the documents that formed the scientific basis for the Kyoto Protocol, Schneider is the first to admit that predictions of what will happen are not cut and dried.
"There's no statistical way to figure out what 2100 will look like," he told the audience. "The weather is a chaotic, dynamic system that cannot be predicted beyond two weeks. Instead what we have is climate models, which are inherently uncertain.
"Add to this the uncertainty of human behavioural activity and global warming by the year 2100 will range from anywhere from 1(degrees) or so to up to 6(degrees) -- from the relatively mild to the catastrophic."