Today marks the beginning of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. To be honest, I think the announcement about 3 weeks ago that there won't be a binding deal on carbon emissions was a bit obvious. While that's certainly depressing, at least political leaders aren't setting themselves up for a shock.
I tried to give a preview of the conference over at Earth & Industry. While I'm sure a lot people will come out of this meeting insisting that a lot has been accomplished - after all, they don't want all this time and money to be wasted - my prediction is the real results of the summit will be to just punt the agenda down another year, Of course, we'll have a piece of paper that says everyone promises to take it very seriously next year, but that's it. Because once you filter out all the "fierce urgency of now" rhetoric, once you get past all the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers who still want to question the science here, the whole issue boils down to two words: "You first." But more on that later.
Despite the cynicism, I do think it's important for world leaders to get together to focus everyone's attention on a crucial issue. So here's what you should look at to get the REAL scoop on what happens in Copenhagen this week.
The IPCC home and report: This is the online home of the UN group that writes and revises the analysis on the climate change science. This is the site you visit first to know the facts.
COP 15 home: The conference home page. You can learn who's meeting where and so on.
Reuters Copenhagen page: Reuters did a phenomenal job covering the G20 Summit, I expect them to do the same here.
Crowd-sourced newspaper editorial: OK, not really "crowdsourced" the way techies define it. But the Guardian led a group of 56 newspapers in 45 countries to publish an editorial about the summit and the issue. I don't usually take newspaper editorials very seriously but this constitutes a very high level of collaboration in an industry that isn't really known for playing well with others. That alone makes it worthy of reading.
Communication Tips for Scientists and Reporting Tips for Journalists: UC-Berkeley cranked out a couple of very useful one-pagers for scientists and journalists who may be getting together for the first time thanks to this summit. Sarah Kuck at Worldchanging reproduced both. The lasting legacy of this summit may very well be how people talk about it - so let's hope everyone gets this right.
The #cop15 twitter hashstag rss feed: I'm putting this in my sidebar for now. There doesn't seem to be a consensus yet on a hashtag, some people are using #climate, but that strikes me as more general.
Those hacked emails everyone is talking about: No, they don't disprove the science about climate change. They really don't even throw it into question. But this is a problem - scientists, perhaps reacting to the incredibly politicized environment here, may have attempted to exclude critics from the scientific discussion. That's not cool. This issue is too serious for people to be excluded - scientists have an obligation to explain to the lay public why their critics are wrong and why further delay is dangerous - but they don't have a right to exclude people because of their political leanings or financial motivations. (They can start by using those UC-Berkeley tip sheets.) Here in America we just had an administration where one side of a scientific argument was routinely silenced. We can't give them an excuse to do it again once they come back.
I'll be on the look out for more news coverage of the summit - online and off - and try to give a list as soon as I can. I'm really curious to see what the GVO folks will do, since climate change has really morphed into a foreign policy issue more than anything else, at least in my mind. Meantime I hope this gets people started...