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GEORGE: Changing climate change strategies

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Chris George
October 02, 2018 - 12:00 PM

OPINION


I have been watching the climate wars go on for decades now.

On one side are those who place fuzzy things like intact ecosystems, clean water and air, and a future for mankind at the top of the list. On the other side are those who like geopolitics, economics, and cold hard cash in first place.

One side has the scientific community on board; the other has corporate leaders, politicians, and the Koch brothers on theirs. The tactics in this argument-fest were laid out early on. Facts, facts, science and more facts on one side, conspiracy, conjecture, politics, and cold hard cash on the other. Label one side realists about Anthropocentric Global Warming (AGW) and the other skeptics if you like.

The skeptics had a strategy. For years it was denial, to the point where the disinformation had wanna be millionaires believing that volcanoes somehow spew out more CO2 than people and that even though we are at the bottom of the solar cycle it was the sun driving the warming. There was a time when they even found ways to deny there was any warming at all but those days are long past.

The skeptics now have a new strategy to get behind.

Now it would appear that the argument is shifting to one of despair. The Trump administration seems to be saying that we have waited so long to take action that there is simply no point in worrying about it any longer.

"The world would have to make deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming, the analysis states. And that “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”"

"The White House did not respond to requests for comment."

The analysts accede to a four-degree Celsius rise in temperature by the end of the century and take a middle of the road position on what that would mean for the planetary ecosystem. They point out that the regulations that the Trump administration is rolling back would have a very small impact on the problem and thus it simply isn't worth it.

The study was performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to justify the EPA rolling back fuel efficiency standards. What is at stake? One year worth of annual emissions for the U.S. economy spread over 80 years.

Now they may actually be on to something as far as our predicament.

Even if we were to miraculously come up with a carbon-free, zero cost energy source tomorrow, we would be hard pressed to keep the biosphere together. Humanity makes up a small sliver of the biomass on this planet and yet we have obliterated 83 per cent of the wild animals and 50 per cent of the plant matter.

Poultry raised for our plates make up 70 per cent of all avian biomass left. Humans make up 36 per cent, our livestock make up 60 per cent and wild species balance out the total mammalian biomass with four per cent of the total. The biomass of marine life from the top of the food chain to the bottom has declined by 80 per cent.

Most of those numbers went up on the leaderboard over the past 50 years.

Yet as stark and as urgent as our situation is we can't seem to find our way to do anything about it. In fact, we seem collectively hell bent on speeding up the process where and when we can while thinking this is how to measure success.

We have a pretty screwy idea about what "success" looks like.

I guess the new skeptic strategy is probably going to be a winner. It removes the cognitive dissonance that all that reality kept piling on their heads. And it embraces a position that most everyone who has spent even ten minutes examining the situation would come to when it comes to technical or economic "solutions" to our predicament.

We're screwed, so why bother.

— Chris George believes one measure of a just society is found in how well it balances fiscally conservative economics with social responsibility and environmental soundness in all of its living arrangements.


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