Saturday, March 02, 2013

Changes in attitudes towards Climate Change are not fast enough


ClimateRealThough many are still jazzed from the amazing turnout at the “Forward on Climate Rally” on February 17th, there’s a long way to go. Somehow we have to get the GHG-related .8C temperature increase since 1850 back down to the levels where we thrived—the Holocene epoch. If Fracking proceeds in NYS, it could release as much GHG’s as coal while continually exposing us to ‘fraccidents’. Even if Fracking is blocked, there won’t be much time to celebrate.

Indications are that the US is waking from its Climate Silence slumber and starting to stir. President Obama and governors around the country are beating the drum. Indeed, it was gratifying at the rally to see thousands of bright young folks who ‘get it’ on Climate Change. After all, it’s their generation that is going to get nailed by the consequences and limited choices of a warmer world.

Our local mainstream media is beginning to mention Climate Change because even if they don’t buy the science behind the crisis, they do notice things like ending moose-hunting season: Warmer winters bedevil moose in Minnesota (February 28, 2013) Democrat and Chronicle. People who love guns don’t like their lifestyle upset and they’ll make news if thwarted. That mainstream media still doesn’t connect the dots between Great Lakes water levels and Climate Change, as mentioned in many Northeast Climate studies, indicates that our comprehension of the problem is decades behind schedule.

Actually, the solution to Climate Change is maddeningly simple, one of quickly decreasing GHG’s that will brook no other remedy. We’ll either get our economics and politics in line with sustainability in a warming world, or we won’t. Our politicians need to know you have their back as they maneuver a sea change in how we treat our environment.

As for our economics, you’d think that implementing a Carbon Tax would be the best and easiest way to combat Climate Change.  But even this modest attempt, the Sanders-Boxer bill, to right our economics after centuries of environmental neglect (externalities) throws free market fundamentalists into fits of fiery frenzy.  Those hell bent on preserving an economic system that helped them, but trashed our environment, continue to say it’s their way or no way. When presented with a cap-and-trade scheme based on business-as-usual with emission thrown in, they carp about that and find ways to game it.

Here’s the thing about the Carbon Tax: It may be the last chance for Capitalism to squeeze environmental issues into its relentlessly mindless algorithm before the radical anti-capitalists (see: Occupy movement) start to look pretty darned sensible. Just listen to Janis: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” I know, bucking the system seems unimaginable, but so is trying to survive a 6C temperature rise by 2100. Something’s going to give.

You’d think that after the environmental challenges our species has wrought just in the last century—pollution, microbial contamination, wetlands destruction, and a seven billion population increase—we’d just hold on a moment and let our environment catch its breath. Find out what we’ve done before we move forward. Most probably think to slow down, look around, and think about our situation would be like pausing to smell the roses while racing across a busy four-lane highway. But it’s not our Nature that is compelling us to dash ourselves against reality—it’s an unreasonable economic system.

There are more indications that attitudes are changing on Climate Change. Nearby, there’s a conference on Climate Change that should be going on in every community: Climate Smart & Climate Ready . Meanwhile, Earth Day is coming up, the one day we turn our attention towards the system that created us and keeps us alive. One of the largest and longest running Earth Day events in Rochester, NY is returning for its 15th season:

Sierra Club - Rochester Regional Group to Host International Great Lakes Champion The Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club is bringing internationally renowned speaker Maude Barlow to Rochester for 15th Annual Environmental Forum. –.  The focus of the Forum is the growing movement advocated by Maude Barlow to protect the Great Lakes forever by establishing them as a Public Trust.  At last year’s forum, we began a conversation with Jim Olson of FLOW about protecting our water as a “common good” for future generations, through the legal and political structure of the Public Trust Doctrine.  This year, we'll continue that conversation in a bigger venue to accommodate the large audience that Maude is sure to bring, and we'll dive deeper with workshops the day after her keynote address.   The Forum will highlight the growing threats to our precious Great Lakes and begin building community networks to protect and manage them. Already we have seen increased threats to our water including: hydrofracking, invasive species, algal blooms, global climate change and lower lake levels. (March 1, 2013) Rochester Sierra Club

All this recent attention on Climate Change is welcome. But it is still far short of seven billion human inhabitants immediately shifting to a sustainable way of life.

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