As is usually the case with EC and UN climate documents, the language of the declaration is often meaningless, sensationalized, and riddled with mistakes. Here are examples:
Climate change has arrived. It is the greatest threat to the livelihoods, security, and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.
This is nonsense. Climate change “arrived” when the atmosphere first formed billions of years ago. It has changed — sometimes quickly, sometime slowly — ever since. To say this is the “greatest threat to the people of the Pacific” ignores the results of studies such as the Copenhagen Consensus, which demonstrated how problems such as malnutrition, disease, sanitation and water supply, lack of electricity, education, terrorism, and other concerns easily trump the hypothetical future concern of dangerous human-caused climate change.
There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that escalating greenhouse gas emissions continue to cause the sharp rise in average global temperatures over the past century, the alarming acidification of our oceans, the rapid loss of polar sea ice, sea-level rise, and the striking incidence of more frequent and extreme weather events all over the world.
There is no “overwhelming scientific consensus” about virtually anything in the climate change field. The science is far too immature for anything to yet be settled in this, arguably the most complex science ever tackled. Regardless, “global temperature” (really, just a statistic) rose only about 0.8C over the past century, an amount too small to be noticed by the average person. The causes of this increase are intensely debated within the climate science community, with many experts concluding that natural cycles dominate the impacts of human activity. Oceans have indeed become slightly less basic, although the change is minute, and far less than the changes many marine environments experience in the course of a day.
Polar sea ice has increased steadily in the Antarctic region since measurements began, and has recovered significantly in the Arctic this year over last.
Sea level rise has been occurring since the end of the last glacial period 10,000 years ago, is far slower now than in past millennia, and is not accelerating in recent years.
Violent weather events are generally not becoming more frequent or extreme across the world.
In crossing this historic threshold [400 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of carbon dioxide], the world entered a new danger zone. Unless we quickly change course, global average temperatures are projected to rise by 4°C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the Century, resulting in unprecedented human and environmental impacts.
The 400 ppmv level has been exceeded many times in the past half billion years with no catastrophic result. Indeed, we are currently at one of the lowest concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere over this time frame.
Further, the computerized climate models which make dire temperature rise forecasts decades in the future have proven unable to reliably forecast climate change even a few years ahead, and so have little forecasting skill.
We confirm the responsibility of all to act to urgently reduce and phase down greenhouse gas pollution in order to avert a climate crisis for present and future generations.
This is simply rhetoric designed to please the region’s primary climate change sponsor — the EU.
In an effort to create the political will for the world to adopt legally binding climate change targets by 2015, the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership site has been set up to collect endorsement from anyone, anywhere. Their intent is to recruit governments, cities, the private sector, and civil society “to commit to be Climate Leaders by listing specific commitments that contribute more than previous efforts to the urgent reduction and phase-down of greenhouse gas pollution.” Employing guilt-generating language, the site attempts to put a human face on the supposed crisis unfolding:
Here in the Pacific, droughts, floods, cyclones, and rising seas are destroying our homes and jeopardizing our future … a set of spiraling impacts that would cause havoc in the Pacific region.
As expected, Western leaders are quickly endorsing the declaration. The UK boasted that they were the first, but the U.S. was not far behind. At a “Post-Forum Dialogue,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell stated that the Obama administration will sign the declaration. The reason she gave for this is quite remarkable:
Climate change is going to have wide ranging impacts all over our globe and that’s something that we are already seeing, particularly here as I flew into the airport and saw the sandbags from the last time the water inundated the runway (in Majuro).