Everybody talks of climate change - we don't...|
The British author John Lancaster recently contributed to the climate debate with a lengthy article. Hereafter we comment on some of his statements. (to the complete article) (Copyright)
Interesting is Lancaster's notion of individual impotence in face of the developments. A German song goes like this "Gücklich ist, wer vergisst, was doch nicht zu ändern ist". It can be good advice indeed to forget what one can't change anyway.
But as to public policy it's a matter of numbers. One becomes powerful once sufficient people understand the issue and join the party. "Don't give up" is an English song and even if you don't see the results hoped for, you're setting an example and you are true to your principles. If you give up, you've lost anyway. If you persist you may win.
In the case of nuclear weapons we have escaped a disaster till now. But when resource wars intensify, for oil or other resources that are running out with different speeds, a nuclear war is still possible.
With climate change and the underlying economic growth policy we have no choice but to fight and to set an example ourselves. Mr Lancaster is wrong in saying that the individual contribution doesn't count. What else is democracy about? Each vote, every action counts in trying to prevent the "prospective planetary catastrophe".
We do agree, however, that "politicians [are] out to show that they do respond but in reality playing for time". Worse, politicians, academics and business do rarely understand the real issues and they are inclined to "believe" all kinds of "solutions" as long as they allow business as usual. We are not sure wether the leaders have "no willingness to act in any meaningful ways." We rather believe that they do not really understand and that they live and work in a double-bind with their employers. The system of anonymous corporations tends to eject those who hamper it. "It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on NOT understanding it" (Upton Sinclair).
The basic equation is still valid: I=P×A×T.
Human Impact (I) on the natural environment equals the product of population (P), affluence (A) (or per capita consumption) and technology (T) or impact of technology per unit of consumption. This describes how our growing population, affluence, and technology contribute toward our environmental impact.
"It is shocking to learn from George Monbiot's book 'Heat' just how systematic the oil lobby has been about spreading a smokescreen of doubt around the question of climate change. The techniques in play were learned by the tobacco lobby in the course of the fights over smoking and health. 'Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ýbody of factţ that exists in the minds of the general public,' an internal memo from one tobacco company states. 'It is also the best means of establishing a controversy.' Or, as the Republican pollster Frank Luntz put it in a memo to party activists during W.'s first midterms, 'Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.' Oil money and tobacco money have gone to bodies such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, the Reason Foundation and the Independent Institute. Exxon, in particular, is a great one for sponsoring climate-denying websites and lobby groups."
In Geneva, Switzerland, a TV sponsored public debate on climate change had invited one of these "nutters" to the televised debate. Asked why, the organiser said he needed to be "controversial". The climatologist said we lost at least 15 years because of the doubters. This sort of debate is no exception.
Mr Lancaster falls victim to the same errors, believing in those technologies and in economic growth. The earth's resources, however, are finite and technology cannot recreate depleted non-renewables and revive extinct species and forests. He chides the SUVs and their owners but sees no problem with China's growth, which in fact is generated by us, because we expatriate our industry to that country of low wages and environmental protection.
We are responsible for that part of Chinese GDP that we import. We buy the goods and are accountable for the pollution and depletion generated in China for their manufacturing. The pollution from China measured on the hill tops around San Francisco is in fact home made.
The effects of Climate change and resource depletion could lead to disastrous scenarios. The SPM [Summary for Policy Makers of the March 2007 The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)] "is silent about these horror scenarios, since its brief is to stick to certainties. Humanity would be reduced to a small number of 'breeding pairs'". James Lovelock
We think surving "breeding pairs" of humans is wishful thinking of a man who has lost sight of realities. Since how many would that be, "a small number of breeding pairs", couples charged with the honourable task to make humankind survive after the total catastrophe and breakdown of society has hit? Bands of 100 people, or 1000 or 10,000, wandering about the empty spaces of tundra swamps? What would they eat? Extinct polar bears? With what tools and which skills? And the other 6 billion 599 million 990 thousand humans? Where did they go? How did they die? Such a flipping nonsense. In case of total collapse nobody will survive the last wars over the remaining pieces of bread and drops of clean drinking water. If some idiot would set off the bomb, it's over anyway.
Lancaster believes in future, yet-to-be-invented technological solutions. CCS has "a proven potential" and:
The idea is that by paying it now we would be keeping the world's economy on track so that by 2050 the developed world would be 200 per cent richer and the developing world 400 per cent, while our emissions decline by 60 to 90 per cent and theirs increase by 25 to 50." (article)
It's depressing to read yet another piece of saving the world with business as usual. The more we read this stuff, the more we believe that the realisation the hard facts and the stark measures that are needed is just too much and far too scary. The escape route is into irrealities, fancy solutions, dematerialisation and the like.
Everybody talks of climate change - we talk of a manifest overuse of resources (overshoot) and the urgent need to scale down our consumption levels, become slower, localise life, produce goods that last a lifetime and longer, and reduce population size.
Growth is suicidal. Contraction offers survival.Helmut Lubbers, 30 March 2007
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