On Friday, I had breakfast with a British rock star -- but he doesn’t play guitar or wear spandex. He’s a professor -- one knighted by the Queen of England. His name is Sir David King, and he’s Tony Blair’s chief scientific advisor. When I told him that he was the scientific community’s equivalent of a rock star, his proper British veneer turned bright red.
During our conversation, he told me that the inertia of the U.S. government on global warming must stop. He had come to Los Angeles following meetings with the Bush administration -- meetings that left him feeling discouraged by the prevailing attitude of inaction.
He also expressed his country’s shock at the horrific televised images from Louisiana: “Very few of us thought we would ever see anything like this in the United States.” He went on to say that the recent global disasters have all been predicted by scientists, pointing out that the governments of the countries devastated by the tsunami “were warned repeatedly and urged to put in an early warning system. They looked at the cost of it and said ‘No’. That system would have saved at least 100,000 lives -- easily.”
Scientists also predicted that the levees of New Orleans would break -- and science has been predicting the basic physics of climate change since the early 1900s. “We are talking,” said Sir David, “about a couple thousand of the brightest minds on the planet now warning about global warming. What will be the big event that is going to test the theory? Are we going to wait for that occurrence? Isn’t there a point that we don’t want to test the theory against? Governments today have access to remarkably good scientific advice. They ignore it at the peril of their own populations.”
Tony Blair is listening to Sir David King -- and so are the people of England. We should too.