Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Climate Pessimism

I must confess, I'm very pessimistic about the idea of humankind turning around the effects of climate change before it's too late. This doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to try, but I can't help getting the feeling that it's not going to happen.
Take the bill that's making its way through congress.

Unlike Brad Lindsey, I am very worried about the idea that climate change could be an "apocalyptic problem", so the failure to deal with it is even more troubling to me, particularly the utter servitude of congress to agri-business, going so far as to muzzle the EPA on the matter of biofuels.
Yet worse is the failure of developed and undeveloped countries to reach an agreement on climate change at the G-8. Critics, such as the blogger I linked to, suggest that it's the patchy commitment of the United States to reducing greenhouse gasses that led China and India to reject the deal. My own opinion is that neither country is any more interested in reducing greenhouse gasses than the Bush administration was, and further, both nations feel it only just that they produce greenhouse gasses at the same rate western societies did when they industrialized. This is unfortunate, if, as seems likely, both nations pump out as much fossil fuel as they like as the become more developed, then there's no way of advert a possibly catastrophic change in the climate.
China and India have a point, most of the greenhouse gasses that exist were produced by the United States, and the "global north" nations never had to worry about cutting there emissions when they made the leap to prosperity. They are also foolish though. If climate changes drastically, it will be nations like China and India, much more than the United States and Europe, that will pay the price. There strategy should be one of clean development rather than refusing any climate agreement by (rightly) observing that the west lacks any moral high-ground on this issue.

1 comment:

PNRJ said...

I both doubt that we will reverse climate change efficiently---and that the human race will be significantly endangered by the results. We're a pretty resilient species; while climate change could cause a lot of suffering that wouldn't need to happen, it won't be the end of human civilization.