By Mick Krever, CNN
There is “absolutely” a link between climate change and wildfires, U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
Wildfires are raging in a ring around Sydney, Australia, as that country experiences its hottest year on record.
“The World Meteorological Organization has not established a direct link between this wildfire and climate change – yet,” Figueres said. “But what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that there these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency.”
Australia’s new prime minister, Tony Abbott, has expressed deep scepticism about climate change, once even calling it “absolute c**p” (he has since walked those remarks back).
Abbott is trying to get rid of Australia’s carbon tax and has dissolved its climate change commission.
“What the new government in Australia has not done is it has not walked away from its international commitment on climate change,” Figueres told Amanpour. “So what they’re struggling with now is not what are they going to do, but how are they going to get there.”
By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN
Will politics exacerbate Australia’s raging wildfires?
It’s not supposed to be fire season yet in Australia, where summer hasn’t even begun. But more than sixty devastating bush fires are already raging in a ring around Sydney.
Just a month ago, Australians elected a new prime minister, Tony Abbott, who once called climate change “absolute c**p.” (He has since walked those remarks back, calling them a bit of “rhetorical hyperbole.”)
Though it is unclear that climate change directly caused these wild fires – police arrested two teenagers for starting two of the Sydney fires –local officials do fear those hot, dry, and windy conditions this week could exacerbate the situation.
In the past 12 months, Australia has lived through the hottest summer, in the hottest year, on record.
“There is a real political debate about how to deal with this issue of climate change,” Stan Grant, international editor of Sky News Australia, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
“Tony Abbot in the past has been citizen for being a climate skeptic, if not a climate change denier,” Grant said. “Now he stepped back a lot from that hard line that he’s taken, but he’s been very ideological when it comes to how to deal with this.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
Scientists are now 95% certain that humans are responsible for climate change, according to a major new study, and two prominent environmentalists told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the time is now for a “groundswell” of changed thinking.
Amanpour spoke with Jane Goodall, a primatologist best known for her work with chimpanzees, and Doctor Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist who fights for changed agricultural practices, in an interview that aired Monday.
“I really believe the time has come for sanity, for responsibility,” Shiva told Amanpour, “for recognizing the rights of Mother Earth, for recognizing a deep science that works in accordance with the laws of Gaia” – the Greek personification of Earth – “not the shallow and irresponsible science that works only in the marketplace for profits and power.”
Goodall and Shiva spoke with Amanpour as they were attending the International Women’s Earth and Climate Change Summit in New York.
Goodall too emphasized the need for change.
“All my life I have loved being out in nature,” she said, “and I see nature shrinking and shrinking as human populations spread, as development takes over areas that once were so beautiful and so clean; forests, which protect the quality of the air and of the water, are being destroyed.”
For Shiva, a change in agricultural practices would have an impact of incredible scope.
“For every crisis we face today,” she said, “whether it be the economic crisis and the disappearance of wealth and jobs, or it be the ecological crisis with climate at the center, or it be the food crisis that a billion people are facing directly for lack of food and two billion for lack of good food, healthy food, and are suffering diseases of obesity, diabetes, etc. – all of these problems get solved by promoting ecological agriculture on the basis of a science of agroecology.”
“I think,” she said, “we need a groundswell across the world that creates another paradigm and another worldview.”
Goodall has focused much of her work of late on inspiring young people to do their part in keeping the planet healthy.
“It makes me so angry when I look at a small child today and I think how we’ve harmed this beautiful planet since I was that age,” Goodall said. “And it makes me so sad to my soul when young people, like in college, say, ‘Well, you know I feel depressed, or I feel angry, or I don’t care because you’ve compromised our future and there’s nothing we can do about it.’”
“And we have,” she said. “We have compromised their future.”
Climatologist Richard Alley reacts to President's Obama new initiative to combat climate change in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Alley is part of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that received a Nobel Prize.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Nobel Prize-winning climatologist Richard Alley about why the poor will be more likely to notice the effects of global warming before the rich.
(CNN) – One of the world’s leading climatologists Wednesday hit back at charges by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) that some of the world’s top climate scientists have in effect “cooked the science” and should be investigated by the federal government.
James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an adjunct professor at New York’s Columbia University, said, “I’d love to have an investigation which should include Senator Inhofe, who’s one of the most well-oiled, coal-fired politicians in Washington.”
“He’s very well funded to protect the fossil fuel industry, but he was elected to support the people,” Hansen added in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman strongly supported Hansen saying, “I’d love to see all the e-mails between his office and various coal and oil companies over the last 20 years.”
“We’ll let Senator Inhofe lay all his emails on the table going back and forth between oil and coal companies, and we’ll let citizens and voters decided where the real science is.”
CNN asked Senator Inhofe to join the discussion with Amanpour, but he declined. In a statement to the Senate Environment Committee Tuesday, Senator Inhofe, the ranking Republican, said, “The minority staff found that some of the world’s leading climate scientists engaged in potentially illegal and unethical behavior. In other words, they cooked the science.”
His remarks came after revelations that some climate change data has been based on questionable scientific practices and even errors.
One leading climate change skeptic, Bjorn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center in Denmark, told Amanpour it’s obvious Senator Inhofe has a political agenda and he does not agree with him.
“But I think we need to say if we’re going to re-establish credibility with the climate science, we need to dial back on the scariness and start talking about what the facts are actually telling us.”
The debate over climate change is heating up as world powers prepare for another climate change conference in Bonn, Germany in April – four months after the Copenhagen summit failed to agree binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions which many blame for global warming.
But the United Nations climate chief, Yvo de Boer, last week announced that he will resign at the end of June after four years on the job and what many say is the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen conference.
In his resignation statement, de Boer said, “Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming.”
Hansen had a grim warning about the consequences of inaction on this issue. “If we burn all the fossil fuels, we will hand our children and grandchildren a situation that’s out of their control.”
“We have to be honest about the fact that we have to have a rising price of carbon emissions. We’ve got to put a price on these fossil fuels, because right now we’re subsidizing them.”
Friedman said the world faces a choice. “If we listen to climate change scientists like Dr. Hansen and we prepare for climate change, but climate change does not happen, what happens? We have cleaner air, cleaner environment, We have a more energy-independent economy, new industries, and global impact.”
“If we listen to Jim Inhofe, the climate deniers, and don’t get ready for climate change and climate change comes, we’re a bad biological experiment.”
Lomborg said it’s clear the world is going to see a temperature rise. But he’s skeptical of the way that it’s being communicated and skeptical of the way solutions are being proposed.
“I think fundamentally what’s happened is a lot of people have been pushing to scare the pants off people, to get us to cut carbon emissions, but we haven’t done so”, he said.
“Essentially what we saw in Copenhagen was exactly the failure of that strategy. We need a new and smarter way forward.”
Lomborg added that many climate economists are demanding action that could cost $40 trillion a year – a price that is much higher than most people are prepared to pay.
He said targeted investment is the key to solving the problem. “What we need to do is invest dramatically more, 50 times more than what the world spends now on research and development.”
“That’s cheap and that will actually work. So let’s get off the high horse and actually start working with promises that will function and deal with climate change in the long run.”