Tuesday, June 14, 2016
So the world needs to get to zero emissions within 20 or so years to have a 65% chance at staying under a 2 degrees celsius rise in temp. Right now the world emits 36 billion tons annually, down just a bit from last year, thanks to China's decreasing coal use. To stay under one and a half degrees, we will have blown through our budget in just five years. This is all based on modelling which is itself continually changing. It is expressed in chances or percentages of such and such scenario, hence the wide margins. But basically we can express the chance of going from 36 billion to near zero as near zero. It is hard to even imagine the scale of such an undertaking. The most massive and massively profitable (and powerful) industry on earth would have to be dismantled next month. This includes state-owned. Production of renewables (while avoiding nuclear?) would have to make up for some if not most of that energy to avoid economic meltdown. A new grid would have to be developed, new systems of transport and new food systems that didn't produce emissions as well. Rather than contemplate such an ambitious agenda most world governments are instead tasking some internal agency to develop ways to cope with climate change, to adapt and mitigate. So imagine you are some technocrat functionary in a cubicle and your boss comes to you saying (s)he wants you to write a plan for climate change adaptation. You get some staff and some software, you plug in some numbers and think about ways you can protect infrastructure, plan for fires, etc..all ridiculous bullshit that just postpones the inevitable but hey, this is capitalism. In this self-reinforcing way the illusion is maintained that there is no crisis even as the crisis gets worse (after all, who would have a geek drawing up useless contingency plans if it was a REAL crisis!) The other way to mask the crisis is to show great concern over ancillary, marginal issues like coal dust or oil spills or crime in fossil fuel boomtowns etc. (climate change can't be an existential crisis if they are worried about meth) In other words, the climate movement needs zero distractions and 100% focus on the real issue.