At a website called WONKHE, which arrogantly claims that it is “the home of higher education policy, bringing the sector together through expert, trusted and essential analysis”, there’s a blog post saying
It’s by someone called Keri Facer, who apparently is both “Professor of Climate Change Leadership” and “Professor of Educational and Social Futures”, at two different universities.
The first linked words in the article are climate emergency, which takes you to a BBC page about the University of Bristol’s declaration. That page helpfully has another link, What is a climate emergency?, leading to another BBC page, which, despite its title, utterly fails to answer the question:
Dozens of local areas around the UK have also said there is a climate emergency – but what does the term mean?
There’s no single definition, but many areas say they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
Why declare an emergency?
The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe.
That last claim is, of course, untrue — the UN said no such thing, as at least one climate scientist has pointed out.
Since the trail runs cold, I asked the learned double-professor the question at her blog; more than a week later, there’s no answer.
The Bristol announcement seems to be this. Again, there is no substance to it. It consists of the usual tired cliches, “commitment to take action on climate change,” “the urgency of the task we are engaged in,” plus virtue-signalling about aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The only concrete claim in the Bristol statement is a falsehood about more frequent and severe extreme weather events. Contrary to their claim, the IPCC SR15 report actually say that storms are decreasing: “Numerous studies towards and beyond AR5 have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy”.
But it’s worse than this. Declaring a “climate emergency” is not just political posturing based on misrepresenting the facts. It is irresponsible and damaging. As mentioned in the Bristol statement, there’s a widespread effort in universities at the moment to provide help and support for students who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. If someone is worried or stressed about something, the responsible and compassionate thing to do is to try to reassure them and calm them down. Tell them that their fears are exaggerated, for example by showing them some actual data on storms, tornadoes and floods, or citing what the IPCC really says. The worst possible thing to do is to shout fire in a crowded theatre, which is exactly what the University of Bristol has done and what Keri Facer is advocating.