The psychology of climate change
Perhaps I should clarify my remarks.
I wasn’t intending to express a belief that there will be a way to fully replace fossil fuels. But simply saying “no more carbon” and that’s it is not really practical either. We are able to generate energy from wind, water, and photovoltaics, so I figure we might as well put our remaining resources into doing what we can on those fronts. We are running into the limits of fossil fuels, but we are not helpless and technology is certainly an option to assist us in mitigating the pain. It is not a solution by itself but it would be imprudent to ignore the tools we do have at our disposal. My point is that we are very capable of partial replacement of our hydrocarbon resources using renewables and I can’t see any reason why we should not transition to using more of those. Perhaps part of the mitigation should be to devote resources to restructuring our cities and communities to be more resilient, less materially intensive, and more self-sufficient.
I have difficulty supporting a climate pact when A) I think there remains controversy on the science and B) there isn’t any sort of a cohesive plan for what the carbon revenues will be spent on. Right now it looks like they are going to go to GS bonuses and all the other well connected playerz that have created the carbon marketz…The point is that peak oil mitigation is not simply a matter of negative actions (consume less) but is also a matter of positive actions (produce more renewable energy to the extent we can).
[quote=Mike Pilat]I have difficulty supporting a climate pact when A) I think there remains controversy on the science and B) there isn’t any sort of a cohesive plan for what the carbon revenues will be spent on. Right now it looks like they are going to go to GS bonuses and all the other well connected playerz that have created the carbon marketz…The point is that peak oil mitigation is not simply a matter of negative actions (consume less) but is also a matter of positive actions (produce more renewable energy to the extent we can).[/quote]
Mike, it’s interesting that you think “consuming less” is a negative action!
In 2004-7, the no document home loan exploded across the EU and particullarly the US. What became known as the “subprime loan” but
was actually a large group of loan practices, doled out loans to buy houses and anything else, without any interest in ability to repay. It was the golden age of denial, denial that this might end badly. Warnings were being screamed by some, but denied by our conservative media. We cared not about risk. We were not interested in risk. We knew that this could end badly but did nothing to deal with that risk. Well…
…Now we face debate on two more risks…both centered around fossil fuels…their scarcity and their environmental potential problems. There are those that know things will happen and there are those that are certain that there are no risks. The “no risk” group is ironically the same as the “no risks” group for the subprime loans
….The answer of risk as always lies somewhere in between for both fossil fuel issues. Do we do nothing about increasing atmospheric
concentrations of a broad group of potentially climate altering gases? Some say yes, they say “no risk” as they always do. Others take
the opposite extreme promising 100% risk. Like…… ME!
…Many things are understood and many aren’t well understood. So, not being able to view the future from our present viewpoint, do we do nothing and conduct the ultimate global atmospheric experiment as we alter our atmospheric chemistry? Do we shut down everything and strive for the “pristine” “stable” atmospheric chemistry, or do we find some middle ground to deal with the risk of a badly destabilized climate, a concept
we do not have the wherewithal to quantify? If we cannot quantify the future in detail, does that mean we should do nothing if we perceive a potential problem?
…What are the risks? Do we follow the model set by the subprime loan era or do we try to intervene before things collapse and we look back with hindsight and wish we had?
In the first vid linked by Greg (btw, I can’t open the second) …
Sorry about that. I seem to have some twilight zone stuff going on over here with my computer – I’m struggling to fix. This link, although it looks exactly like the one that wouldn’t open, should work.
PS: If it still doesn’t work I guess you could google it. The article is – The Breakthrough Institute: cap and trade worked for acid rain, why not for climate change
The useless, destructive talks at Copenhagen show that the treaty-making system has scarcely changed in 130 years.
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 18th December 2009
First they put the planet in square brackets, now they have deleted it from the text. This is no longer about saving the biosphere: now it’s just a matter of saving face. As the talks melt down, everything that might have made a new treaty worthwhile is being scratched out. Any deal will do, as long as the negotiators can pretend they have achieved something. A clearer and less destructive treaty than the texts currently being discussed would be a sheaf of blank paper, which every negotiating party solemnly sits down to sign(1).
This is the chaotic, disastrous denouement of a chaotic and disastrous summit. The event has been attended by historic levels of incompetence. Delegates arriving from the tropics spent ten hours queuing in sub-zero temperatures without shelter, food or drink, let alone any explanation or announcement, before being turned away. Some people fainted from exposure; it’s surprising that no one died. The process of negotiation is just as obtuse: there’s no evidence here of the innovative methods of dispute resolution developed recently by mediators and coaches, just the same old pig-headed wrestling.
Watching this stupid summit via webcam (I wasn’t allowed in either), it strikes me that the treaty-making system has scarcely changed in 130 years. There’s a wider range of faces, fewer handlebar moustaches, frock coats or pickelhaubes, but otherwise, as the world’s governments try to decide how to carve up the atmosphere, they might have been attending the Conference of Berlin. It’s as if democratisation and the flowering of civil society, advocacy and self-determination had never happened. Governments, whether elected or not, without reference to their own citizens let alone those of other nations, assert their right to draw lines across the global commons and decide who gets what. This is a scramble for the atmosphere comparable in style and intent to the scramble for Africa.
At no point has the injustice at the heart of multilateralism been addressed or even acknowledged: the interests of states and the interests of the world’s people are not the same. Often they are diametrically opposed. In this case, most rich and rapidly developing states have sought through these talks to seize as great a chunk of the atmosphere for themselves as they can – to grab bigger rights to pollute than their competitors. The process couldn’t have been better designed to produce the wrong results.
I have spent most of my time at the Klimaforum: the alternative conference set up by just four paid staff, which 50,000 people attended without a hitch. (I know which team I would put in charge of saving the planet.) There the barrister Polly Higgins laid out a different approach. Her declaration of planetary rights invests ecosystems with similar legal safeguards to those won by humans after the second world war(2). It changes the legal relationship between humans, the atmosphere and the biosphere from ownership to stewardship. It creates a global framework for negotiation which gives nation states less discretion to dispose of ecosystems and the people who depend on them.
Even before this new farce began it was starting to look as if it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992.
We have now lost 17 precious years; possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, which has been driven and promoted by the energy industries. This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterised, until now, as the good guys: those which have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved to be more urgent concerns than either the natural world or human civilisation. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other.
Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest; it was nice knowing you, not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.
Here’s an interview with James Hansen by Eric Berger, the science writer for the Houston Chronicle, before Hansen’s visit to Houston earlier this month. Eric also posted an email from a whack job denialist that I think was the reason that Hansen was given a police escort into town.
Hansen turns out to be a reasonable guy who even advocates a few policies the denialists agree with. I don’t know if he was in Copenhage, but its clear they didn’t listen to him.
Monbiot quote – Thanks DTM
[quote]Corporate profits and political expediency have proved to be more urgent concerns than either the natural world or human civilisation. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other.[/quote]
Unfortunately, I believe this more and more as I get grayer and grayer.
I found this cartoon in another forum
If it was free, I don’t think we would be having a lot of disagreement.
Copenhagen: Obama Guts Progressive Values
— By Bill McKibben
The President of the United States did several things in his agreement today with China, India, and South Africa:
- He blew up the United Nations. The idea that theres a world community that means something has disappeared tonight. The clear point is, you poor nations can spout off all you want on questions like human rights or the role of women or fighting polio or handling refugees, but when you get too close to the things that count —the fossil fuel that’s at the center of our economy— you can forget about it. We’re not interested. You’re a bother, and when you sink beneath the waves we don’t want to hear much about it. The dearest hope of the American right for fifty years was essentially realized because in the end coal is at the center of America’s economy. We’d already done this with war and peace, and now we’ve done it with global warming. What exactly is the point of the UN now?
- He formed a league of super-polluters, and would-be super polluters. China, the US, and India dont want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way. It is a coalition of foxes who will together govern the henhouse. It is no accident that the targets are weak to nonexistent. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves with targets, he said. Indeed. And now imagine what this agreement will look like with the next Republican president.
- He demonstrated the kind of firmness and resolve that Americans like to see. It will play well politically at home and that will be the worst part of the deal. Having spurned Europe and the poor countries of the world, he will reap domestic political benefit. George Bush couldn’t have done this because the reaction would have been too great. Obama has taken the mandate that progressives worked their hearts out to give him, and used it to gut the ideas that progressives have held most dear. The ice caps won’t be the only things we lose with this deal.
This was just too bizarre
Polluting pets: the devastating impact of man’s best friend
PARIS (AFP) – sports utility vehicle.could be one of the environment’s worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling
But the revelation in the book “Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living” by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.