Thursday, November 26, 2015
I'm Just Not Sure Anyone Who Matters Really Believes It.
We should all defer to the science types and their powerful consensus when it comes to us, the laity, having to make decisions on complex issues such as climate change. I have no scientific background in these things but I do follow these issues, take a course every now and then and read what can seem to be a river of 'executive summaries' of new research studies and reports.
We live in a world that has become managed by administrators following belief-based ideologies, often little more than dogma. It's the confusion, the inconsistencies and contradictions that give it away. When something doesn't seem to be working you can usually find some sort of belief-based thinking at the root of the problem. It's a world of fundamentalism fueling ever more fundamentalism. That is why evidence-based information is so refreshing, even reassuring. It means the guy behind the wheel actually has his eyes on the road ahead. That's a good thing.
It can also be a source of great worry. For example, next week's global climate summit, COP21, in Paris. COP21, that's a lot of COPs, too many. The number reflects, in no small way, the obstructive power of belief-based thinking of the sort we experienced from our man, Harper, Australia's Harper clone, Abbott, and the neo-conservative Bush administration. There was a bag of fundamentalists and, thanks to their handiwork, any chance at an effective agreement on forestalling the worst impacts of climate change was kicked down the road, again and again and again. Which is why we're at #21.
The important thing is what the science types are telling us is the unique significance of COP21 that distinguishes it from, say, COP7 or COP16 or any previous COP. What a lot of them are saying is that this one, COP21, being held next week in Paris, is our "last best chance" to find a solution that could fend off catastrophic, runaway global warming. Scientific American has labeled COP21 a "do or die" summit. SA has loads of articles on what we need to do in Paris next week.
"We have entered what might be called the Anthropocene thermal maximum, an era of global warming driven by one species penchant for burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. Right now in 2015 may be the last time anyone breathes air with average CO2 concentrations below 400 ppm, as this number marches seemingly inexorably upward. But we don't have to keep adding to that number forever."
Over at Grist.org, COP21 is heralded as the "last best chance for the world to save itself."
"We are out of time to start swiftly cutting emissions and regrowing our forests and grasslands. There may be ways in which climate change isn’t as dangerous as nukes, but one way in which it is even more so is its irreversibility. If you fail to strike a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran in 2014, you can make one in 2015. As long as they don’t yet have nukes, the crisis has been averted for the time being. Climate change doesn’t work like that. If you fail to strike a climate deal and coal plants and tankers and cars keep spewing carbon pollution, you cannot undo those emissions. The failures of Kyoto and Copenhagen and the years that followed have left us up against a wall. The countries of the world must come together now or they will suffer together later."
Our current prime minister is promising a new and invigorated approach to fighting anthropogenic global warming and, with the possible exception of Saskatchewan, he seems to have the premiers onside. What is unclear is whether any of our leaders, federal or provincial, really believe this is our last best chance, our do or die moment. Can they somehow wrench this issue from the gaping maw of partisan politics? Will they do what the crisis demands or settle for as much and as little as they think they can get away with? If, when they return to Canada you begin hearing weasel words and the sound of cans being kicked down the road you'll have a pretty good indication.