I have recently become aware of two camps of thought with regard to global warming/climate change, niether one relating to religion vs science. On one side is the internationally recognized theory of rapid devastating change and on the other a token uncertainty of the actual changes occuring in terms of what effects we may be facing and how quickly they will emerge.
As a "regular sort" I don't really know a lot of the science involved with our changing conditions and so I guess that puts me in between the two in this arguement. They both have very valid points and the answer to this riddle is important- so what do you all think?
John, if you get busy working to aggressively reduce human population growth, that will aggressively reduce CO2 emissions growth. To a very large degree, overpopulation and anthropogenic global warming are the same problem. There are non-population-reduction approaches to fighting AGW, which will be needed for reasons Adrian states, particularly in the short run, but limiting population growth is a key piece.
Interesting you should raise that I've been in a short discussion on another site about a population reduction org that is offering contraceptive climate change offsets to go to developing nations.
My take was by itself I consider it a bit distasteful considering people in developing countries have carbon footprints that are a fraction of those in the developed world.
Having said that I agree with what one poster said that even if we make cuts and they continue to increase their populations we are still in trouble.
So it isn't just about population, everyone in general should reduce or stabilise theirs, but also those in the developed have to drastically cut their energy and resource use. It is also unethical to expect the developing countries to stay in poverty so the have can continue to live in luxury even if it is a 'green' lifestyle. So not must we cut back but share what we have, otherwise why should the developed world just do what we did and pollute their way to wealth and we can all go down the drain together?
I agree that whatever we do should be equitable, and by that standard, the developed world really needs to lead on combating climate change and not worry so much about shoving standards down the throats of developing countries. As the developed nations work out new technologies and achieve economies of scale, the developing nations will switch to those as they develop anyhow because they'll be cheaper and more efficient. But it really is perverse for the nations that caused the climate crisis to complain that developing nations shouldn't be given an unfair advantage in any climate deal. That's just adding insult to injury: "We stole your environmental quality in order to raise our standard of living, but we don't want you stealing our environmental quality to raise your standard of living." Nice.
All countries should work toward population stabilization or reduction. The primary way that has been achieved to date has been by attaining modern standards of living thru industrialization (China being the only exception that I know of, with its one-child policy). The problem now is that further industrialization should be achieved using greener tech than in the past. We shouldn't keep anybody from improving their standard of living, but we should work toward less damaging ways to attain that goal.
Not hard to see that but many won't have a bar of responsibility for past actions.
Overall I agree, but I don't think we will have the resources for them to develop anywhere near our current standard of living or rely on that to cut birth rates. I'm right behind the peak oil crowd, I don't think we will sustain todays current industrial lifestyle.
I have to admit that I find it a little unsettling that you feel the need to use inverted commas for the words preserve and environment.
My feeling is that if the developed countries can't lead the world in refining and improving non-fossil fuel sources of energy, to the extent that they *become* economically viable then we are screwed in the long term. If, however, it's just always about a political party making popular short term decisions to ensure they make it through the next election cycle then yes we have to stick to the more economically workable and traditional fossil fuels.
I'm in Australia and we are all about coal exports but how counter intuitive is it to keep expending energy digging the stuff up and shipping it around the world to get burned whilst simultaneously scratching our heads about ways to reduce our CO2 emissions?
John, can we at least agree that it is insane to continue subsidizing the ridiculously profitable oil industry, as done in the US Energy Policy Act of 2005? Of course, that's a drop in the bucket compared to the amount the US government spends to ensure access to foreign sources of oil via military, diplomatic, and foreign aid expenditures.
Alternative fuels will never be competitive with oil if we continue to artificially reduce the price of oil. If you really think free markets are a panacea (I don't), the first step must be to acknowledge the full price that we pay for the less desirable commodities. Even without fully integrating the environmental costs of fossil fuels, if you fully account for the billions the government throws at the fossil fuel industry every year, it doesn't look so cheap after all. I've never met a free marketeer who acknowledges or even seems to want to talk about full accounting for traditionally off-the-books issues.
Well, Europe certainly has been at the forefront of wind and nuclear power generation, partly owing to its lack of fossil fuel resources. And at least part of the rationale for European gas and car taxes is to cut down on congestion in city streets that were laid out centuries before the automobile came along, so what type of automobile fuel gets used is not as relevant.
But my point is that it's no good to oppose subsidizing clean energy on the basis of free market ideology while heavily subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. If you think it's a bad idea for government to play favorites, it should make even less sense for the government to choose the most environmentally harmful option as its favorite. What's really weird in the US is that we do tax gasoline at both the state and federal level, and then provide subsidies to the oil companies. Huh? Are we really that stupid that we manage to punish and reward the same commodity? Shouldn't we at least be consistent?
John, it seems as though we might be emphasizing different things. You seem to be talking much more about transportation and cars, whereas I'm talking about the whole picture. I agree that at present, electric cars are problematic compared to oil-powered cars, even with subsidies. But I also think Americans have barely scratched the surface in terms of arranging their lives around driving less. That's not easy, particularly in the wide-open west, but it's something that could have a big benefit without really much sacrifice, if are intelligent about it.
But it just makes no sense to complain about subsidizing clean energy development at the same time that we continue to subsidize dirty energy systems.
Hey - look at it this way: Eisenhower was able to use the hysteria created by the idea that the Russians were insane enough to believe we were insane enough to use missiles first that they might use missles first (WTF?) to build a mighty fine interstate highway system. (Listen, the cold war was no prettier than that sentence.)
So, despite the fact that there is actually little contorversy among those who actually research things that do not require computer models (like shrinking ice caps and rising sea temperature) let's pretend that it's some tremendous chicken little story. Let's look at the terrible things that might come taking this chicken little story seriously:
1. We start using the abundant and ubiquitous power of the sun, wind, waves and the heat of the earth to move about and light and heat or buildings
2. We stop supplying theocracies that want to eradicate us with the resources to do it
3. We lose the profit motive to concoct false motives to attempt to militarily control oil producing regions
4. We figure out how to obtain clean water from new sources while, simultaneously, ceasing to dirty the current water supply
5. We implement extremely efficient irrigation systems
6. We find it becomes more and more feasible to provide clean water and arable land in lands once ravaged by wars over oil and drought caused by poor resource management
In short, responding as if climate change is a real threat is likely to result in very real beneifts in the medium and long run. Meanwhile, failing to respond as if it is a real threat will do nothing to improve problems that are far too real already and might speed us into an era of devastating ecological desaster we could have avoided.
I find your #2 point, interesting John and their is 2 reasons I believe.
1. Oil currently is not expensive enough (once again) for people to make the change.
2. The sun and wind are free. Although this really is a good thing, unfortunately that's also the reason why big corporations are slow to act. They are trying however. I live on a high hill and a "wind company" has come around to try and buy my wind rights off of me for diddly squat (yes that's the technical term). Also the terms would state that no one including myself could profit off the wind, besides them, of course. Obviously I said no. Surprisingly, many neighbours got suckered in though. Keep in mind, this is a "forever" contract for as long as the land exists.