Sunday, February 15, 2015

We Really Must Stop Looking at the Challenge the Wrong Way

The climate change argument (there's no 'debate') has recently shifted to whether it's worth it.  While climate science was hunkered down fending off the deep-pocketed denialists, they allowed the other side to get control of the narrative - always a fatal mistake.

We now discuss emissions reductions in the context of the burden to society and our economy.  It's a burden, it's bad.  It's going to cost this much or that and this bunch or that will be at risk of losing their jobs and our cars won't run and our houses will freeze and we'll be left to thaw frozen mud for dinner.  Woe is us.

That discussion is preventing us from the discussion we need to have.  We need to discuss emissions reductions in the context of opportunity.  We still have an opportunity to avail ourselves of a variety of options that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while building a green economy.  That opportunity, however, grows more distant with each passing day.  One by one our best options will be foreclosed.  The best options slipped through our fingers in the 70s when we really didn't know any better.

The longer we remain snarled in a discussion of emissions reductions as a burden, the harder it will be for us to turn that into a discussion of opportunity.

You may not have noticed it but, over the past few months, there's been a lot more focus on geo-engineering our way out of catastrophic climate change (at least for the lucky ones - us).  That focus is tinged with resignation.  It's akin to saying, "look, let's face reality.  we're not going to deal with our emissions effectively so we have to accept the thermonuclear option, geo-engineering." Seriously, that's nearing the point of capitulation.

Unfortunately, people in high places in Canada's political and commercial caste, are keeping the focus entirely on burden and they're staying mute on opportunity. They realize they've lost their faux 'debate' on climate change but that doesn't matter much so long as they can fend off any demand for effective change.  And the longer they can control the narrative and keep the focus on burden instead of opportunity, the longer they can hold out.


Hugh said...

If many major cities get submerged due to rising sea levels caused by melting ice caps, that will become a burden.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's slowly dawning on people in power that the costs of not acting could actually exceed the 'burden' of massive carbon emissions reductions. That's not to say they're going to act on it. No, they're beholden to some narrow interests that won't hear of it. And so, once again, they'll put vested interests ahead of the public interest.