Saturday, December 10, 2011

The conversation: Looking at Climate Change full in the face

 

Climate Change has many unpleasant truths besides the many Likely Changes to our local environment. And people don’t like unpleasant stuff. One of the unpleasant truths that Climate Change brings is upsetting the present order. To address Climate Change on a scale that will actually make a difference will require our way of life to alter significantly—because it will be the lens though which we must view our environment, everything we do, even our purpose in life. Our generation will be held accountable for how we address this issue.

Presently, although many think they understand the implications of Climate Change, they continue to act in the same old way. Environmentalists continue to attempt to preserve our pristine environment when there are no more pristine environments and Climate Change will make even maintaining a sustainable environment a moving target. Meaning, trying to restore ecology by removing invasive species and leaving only endemics ones may be futile in a world where the endemic species cannot adapt fast enough. Note: Western rattlesnakes might not make it: Pleistocene Climate, Phylogeny, and Climate Envelope Models: An Integrative Approach to Better Understand Species' Response to Climate Change

Government authorities, although they have studied Climate Change and fully understand its ramifications and what they need to do, continue to act as though we have a million years to adapt. They quietly encourage the public to conserve energy; they rarely get their message to the media in a way that confronts the public with the hot-hard truth, and they busy themselves with the same old programs to repair the same old infrastructures (sewer systems, road, and power lines) that will be inadequate for our Climate Change future.

Business still conduct business as if their products and way of doing business is still subject only to pandering to the public’s desires—even products like gas-guzzlers and products that continue to release greenhouse gases.

We here in New York State continue to flirt with a dangerous technique for drilling more fossil fuels for energy (Fracking) without even discussing its role in Climate Change. The public and the media are mostly oblivious to the methane leaks already present in our existing gas lines. We will cook here in New York State if we ramp up our use of gas and continue to ignore renewable energy—as we have done by allowing the Great Lakes Off-Shore wind project (GLOW) by the New York State Power Authority to die a quiet death.

Because the public has not been fully informed and because they don’t want to be fully informed on Climate Change we cannot look this crisis fully in the face and shift demonstrably to address it. We talk about energy conservation as good for saving money. We talk about increasing active transportation (walking and bicycling) using obesity rates and appealing to the biking culture instead of reducing the 27% of GHG that transportation accounts for. We continue thinking we can kick the can of US strategy towards Climate Change down the road to 2020 before we actually start doing something about it at the Climate Conference in Durban.

Doing the same old thing and expecting different results is a classic definition of insanity. Yet, if we don’t dramatically shift our stance on Climate Change all those other things we want to accomplish are not going to happen.

No groups seem to know that better than those who slavishly believe in laissez-faire capitalism—a system of economics that has raped our environment and heads us over a Climate Change cliff. They are running scared. Hence money’s involvement in our politics may be the most intractable truth we must overcome. This dialogue must occur in our nation and it is best encapsulated in this conversation between Naomi Klein and Andrew Revkin:

Naomi Klein's Inconvenient Climate Conclusions - NYTimes.com Naomi Klein, the author of a string of provocative and popular books including “The Shock Doctrine,” recently took on global warming policy and campaigns in “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” a much-discussed cover story for The Nation that has been mentioned by readers here more than once in the last few weeks. The piece begins with Klein’s conclusion, reached after she spent time at a conclave on climate sponsored by the libertarian Heartland Institute, that passionate corporate and conservative foes of curbs on greenhouse gases are right in asserting that a meaningful response to global warming would be a fatal blow to free markets and capitalism. (December 7, 2011) Natural Resources and the Environment - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com

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