Photo Credit Hil
Long time buddy Dennis Howlett wrote an interesting post earlier today where he talks about the dangers of being an evangelist.
In the post he takes me to task for being idealistic:
Solutions are only any good if they are solving an identifiable problem. Too often I see social media people trying to force fit solutions based on a perceived need. It is all done with the best of intentions but it is a fundamentally flawed strategy. Here’s a good illustration.
The other day, my good friend Tom Raftery was arguing that the $700 billion US financial industry rescue plan paled into insignificance compared to the good that could be done by investing a fraction of that amount in greening technologies. He may well be right. Many of us at least vaguely know we’re all going to hell in a hand basket if we don’t get a grip on climate change issues. But it isn’t top of mind in the US. Not even remotely close. Given the choice of an immediate resolution to what many believe is the imminent collapse of the US capital markets and a far off destruction of earthly resources is a non contest. The second reality is too remote for many to contemplate even though Tom’s argument is laudable. I suggested putting it in those comparative terms. Whether he does is another matter.
Dennis is referring to a couple of posts I put up on Twitter the other day where I said:
The climate crisis is infinitel more dire than the financial crisis, so why aren’t we spending billions on it? http://url.ie/q51
@jeffnolan I don’t think fixing the climate is noble, I think it is waaaaay beyond urgent and dwarves the importance of the financial crisis
@dahowlett The US gov’t isn’t investing in the climate prob but can spend $100billion on the financial crisis? Insanity!
At the time of writing those posts I incorrectly thought that the US government was investing $100 billion to fix the financial crisis. I have since realised that that figure is actually $700 billion.
I am not sure if Dennis saw the original post and my link to Joseph Romm’s excellent article because if he did and he had followed it he would have read things like:
If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.
So warned IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri last fall when the IPCC released its major multi-year report synthesizing our understanding of climate science. And remember Pachauri was handpicked by the Bush administration to replace the “alarmist” Bob Watson.
What happens if we fail to act in time to avert the climate catastrophe?
- We cross carbon-cycle tipping points, such as the loss of the tundra, beyond which there is “no redemption.”
- We head toward CO2 concentrations this century that are triple or quadruple preindustrial levels.
- We should expect 0.8 to 2.0 meters of sea level rise this century, inundating the homes of 100 million people.
- We face desertification of one third the planet and loss of the glaciers that provide water to a billion people.
- We face loss of more than two thirds of the species on the planet, and a hot, acidic, and largely lifeless ocean
- We face humanity’s self-destruction — 6°C total planetary warming.
Note, none of the above points are opinion. They are facts culled from the IPCC reports, reports which are widely believed to be conservative and whose predictions up to now have been shown to underestimate the observed outcomes of climate change to-date.
Now, given that the IPCC think we need to take definitive action before 2012 or it will be too late and that most people believe the IPCC to be extremely conservative, I think Dennis may want to re-think his assertion that:
Given the choice of an immediate resolution to what many believe is the imminent collapse of the US capital markets and a far off destruction of earthly resources is a non contest
Then again, maybe he’s right!
How many people do you know who are aware that definitive action needs to be taken by 2012 or its too late? Not many I suspect.
As against that, how many people do you know who are aware of the immediacy of the current financial crisis? Significantly more, I imagine.
The message about the immediacy and urgency of climate change is not getting out there.
If the current financial crisis is not addressed quickly, we risk a global economic slowdown.
If the current climate crisis is not addressed quickly, a global economic slowdown will be the least of our concerns.