President’s Letter, News.ISWA #3

Climate change has occupied our mind space for a very long time, but don’t take your eyes off the ball just yet. Only recently politicians ratified the Paris Agreement to contain the negative effects of climate change. Scientists and most science writers have spoken vocally on the need for the world to come to some understanding for a long time, yet it took the policy makers and the larger public a few decades to reach a global consensus to try and keep the temperature of the globe from rising more than two degrees centigrade. Over 190 nations have signed into the Paris Agreement and France’s foreign minister and the host of the 2015 Paris Conference, Laurent Fabius, called it an ‘historic turning point’ in the goal of reducing global warming. Yet…

It is reported that the US President-elect Donald Trump may seek to trash the Paris Agreement since his party, the Republicans, have long been skeptical of human-induced warming of the Earth. It may not be easy for Trump to rescind the global pact but dilute it he could do. If the world’s biggest emitter pushes back one can be sure there will be other nations who may join the chorus. The political climate, as well as the planetary one, indeed may be changing.

Science journalists need to once again turn their attention from reporting on the science behind a changing climate, which now seems well established, unless of course Trump decides to open that debate. Now the time has come to keep a strict watch on how nations account for their greenhouse gas emissions. There will be cheaters and others who will try to obfuscate the carbon audits; it is here that science journalists can keep a vigil to ensure that nations and businesses who subvert the system are brought to book.

In addition ISWA, being a global organization, and its members are best placed to ensure that there is some equity in technology transfers that may take place if the global pact to limit the worse warming effects are to be implemented.

As a community we need to be vigilant that countries that polluted the planet the most and rapidly amassed wealth at the cost of clean air of the entire globe, do not once again make a killing by selling so called clean and green technologies at exorbitant prices. Being ever vigilant is the role that science communicators can play in a changing climate.

– Pallava Bagla