Monday, May 04, 2015

Are You Supporting Politics of Nihilism?

2030.  You do realize that's just 15-years away.  Do you realize that 15-years is a heartbeat when it comes to making fundamental change?

So, what's so important about 2030?  Plenty.  By then we'll be experiencing climate change impacts that are disruptive and difficult to bear.  Take your head out of the sand, look around you - all around, and you'll see many of these impacts are already here and they're growing.

We're coping, more or less, at least most of us.  There's a certain leeway, call it resilience.  We've got resilience, so far.  However, as the challenges grow and worsen, our resilience, our ability to absorb them, wanes.

We think those of us in temperate zones can adapt to warming of 2C by 2100. No one is under any illusions we can equally cope with 4C of warming.  2C is a game changer.  4C is game over.

Yet 4C is now a distinct possibility and, if we want to avoid 4C, we have to choose to avoid it.  We have to do the things necessary to achieve that outcome. We have to make the choices and do the necessary things and we have to 'choose and do' within the remarkably limited time still available to us.

Top world experts at Germany's Potsdam Institute use the example of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) to make their point.  CCS as a viable, mature technology is still about 10-years off.  2025.  But developing CCS is one thing, implementing it is quite another.  To get CCS up and running on any meaningful scale will take another two decades, possibly three.  That would be 2045 to 2055.

The thing about CCS is that it's used as a sop to justify continuing our extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.  It's a "don't worry, be happy" parlour trick.  It's a way to obstruct us from making the choices and doing the necessary things to avoid 4C and it will contribute greatly to our prospects of getting to 4C or worse. Not for nothing have the fossil fuelers seduced us with grand promises of CCS for so many years.

The scientific community has reached a strong consensus view that, if we're to have any reasonable chance of salvaging a 2C world, we have to leave at least 80% of already known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, unburned.  There's a choice.  It's pretty straightforward.

So, how do we restructure our economies and our societies so that we can leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves untouched, safely in the ground?  What must we do?  How are we going to go about this?  How much time do we have to choose, how much time to plan, how long will it take to implement our choices? Hint:  it's going to take a while.  Hint:  it's not an open-ended option.  Time is not on our side.

As far as Canada's political parties are concerned, none of the leaders vying to run the country wants to make this fundamental, potentially existential choice lest, in making the choice, they risk political consequences.  Look, we've seen it before.  When Dion proposed the Green Shift initiative, the great Layton every bit as freely as Harper, used it as a cudgel to beat Dion senseless.   Layton showed how low the bar of Canadian political leadership has fallen and it's nauseatingly low. Mulcair is even more opportunistic.

I get a lot of this, "we've got to vote (liberal/ndp) because we've got to get rid of Harper."  Really, why?  If all three parties are inherently nihilistic, it's my obligation to reject them all.  No, sorry.  My vote, I get to set the bar and I will not vote for anyone below it - which includes Messrs. Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau.

ISIS?  You have to be kidding.  The assault on Canada is already underway and it has nothing to do with Islam.  If anything it's more affected by Christian fundamentalism and political partisanship.

The bottom line - if your party doesn't openly endorse the need to leave high-carbon fossil fuels, especially coal and bitumen, in the ground, then you're supporting and empowering the politics of nihilism.  There is no fence-sitting on this one.


Anonymous said...

But what kind of Nihilism are you talking about?

The Mound of Sound said...

The "civilization-ending" sort that springs out of this dystopian mentality. If Canadians knew what 4C will mean and how perilously close we are to ensuring that outcome for our grandkids we wouldn't be tolerating the reckless indifference of our political leadership.

As I've made clear, avoiding 4C is a choice but, unless we choose to avoid it and are prepared to do what that outcome requires, we have effectively chosen the 4C alternative.

That choice begins by accepting the need to walk away from high-carbon fossil fuels now, even as we transition to a decarbonized economy.

Steve said...

Its not politics its cognigivte dissonance. Belief systems overwhelmed by facts and the easy answer is the old had in the sand to stop the waves.

Anonymous said...

Anyong....all we are doing is showing how stupid we are by killing ourselves off...that could be a good thing for the earth actually. The stupidity is not looking after that which looks after us and this very lame excuse, God will provide.