Can We Stop Climate Change While Still Living Comfortably?

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Can We Stop Climate Change While Still Living Comfortably?

The United Kingdom's Global Calculator tool says we can prevent climate change without harming our modern lifestyles - if alterations are made to three key areas.

When I was growing up, most of the conversation about "fixing" global warming dealt with ordinary people changing their daily habits. We all needed to drive less, consume fewer foodstuffs, and take time away from computer screens to ensure a brighter, less apocalyptic future for our children. Trouble is, limiting the conveniences of modern life is easier said than done. Is there a way humans can continue their tech-heavy lifestyles, preserve the economy, and limit greenhouse gas emissions? According to the United Kingdom's new "Global Calculator" tool it's entirely possible - if key changes occur behind the scenes.

The Global Calculator, designed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is meant to explore plausible changes that would limit climate change moving into the 21st Century. It includes 44 variables that cover lifestyle choices, technological development, fuel use, land developments, and so forth. Any user can tweak the settings, which output data for what global temperatures and economic prosperity will look like in 2050.

Right now, the global economy is expected to triple in size while energy demands increase by 70%. Global greenhouse gas emissions will increase from 50 to 84 gigatonnes, and the planet will warm by four degrees in 100 years. Paradoxically, living standards actually improve during this time thanks to increased electrical access and housing advancements. That said, if you don't have access to such homes you'll likely be in a world of trouble.

So the goal is to prevent this climate change while keeping a prosperous economy. Can it be done? According to the calculator, yes - if a few essential changes are made. Based on four scenarios limiting warming to two degrees without harming the economy, fossil fuels must be limited to 40 percent of global energy use and replaced with nuclear energy and renewable sources. Per capita energy use also needs to be cut by 10 to 15 percent, which can be achieved through energy efficiency measures. Finally, crop yields must grow from 40 to 60 percent to feed our population without chopping down valuable forest land.

"For the first time this Global Calculator shows that everyone in the world can prosper while limiting global temperature rises to two degrees," climate secretary Ed Davey said, "preventing the most serious impacts of climate change."

There are other, specific variables that can be tweaked, but each scenario only changes the global GDP by two to three percent. In other words, it's entirely possible to change global climate trends without vastly changing our modern economy if concentrated effort is made in the aforementioned areas. Anyone who thinks the scenarios could be improved on is welcome to access the tool for themselves, but it's certainly encouraging to know we have options at our disposal.

Source: Global Calculator, via Carbon Brief

Permalink

An interesting facet of climate change is that the western world needs to screw over the poorer countries to stay poor in order for them not to increase pollution.

Can We Stop Climate Change While Still Living Comfortably?

Yes, but we can't do it with our current idea of "comfort". This study (from looking only at what's in this article on it) looks really problematic in a number of ways.

Fanghawk:
Any user can tweak the settings, which output data for what global temperatures and economic prosperity will look like in 2050.

2050 is far too short term to be very meaningful. We should be able to make it to 2050 even if we don't change a thing. It's when you get to the year 2100 or later that things start to look grim for the human race, as is mentioned in the next paragraph.

Fanghawk:
So the goal is to prevent this climate change while keeping a prosperous economy. Can it be done?

Economic growth is the foundational cause of environmental degradation. The obvious answer to the question, "Can we continue to have economic growth without any more environmental destruction?" is a resounding "No". Keep in mind that 50% of all wildlife on Earth has been destroyed in the past 40 years alone. This issue is so much more than just about climate change that it's completely insane to think that just focusing on the burning of fossil fuels is going to have any meaningful impact on what we are looking at - which is total ecological collapse.

Fanghawk:
"For the first time this Global Calculator shows that everyone in the world can prosper while limiting global temperature rises to two degrees," climate secretary Ed Davey said, "preventing the most serious impacts of climate change."

So, we can limit the rise of global temperatures over the next 50 years to 1/2 of an ice age?

image

Or is this for the next 100 years? The next 200 years? When are we thinking will be a good time to make today's climate look like an ice age in comparison to what is to come? Is this really a long term solution?

Fanghawk:
There are other, specific variables that can be tweaked, but each scenario only changes the global GDP by two to three percent. In other words, it's entirely possible to change global climate trends without vastly changing our modern economy if concentrated effort is made in the aforementioned areas.

This just isn't possible. It's only looking at a small piece of the puzzle and it's making the assumption that technology will come in to save the day like the deus ex machina of an ancient Greek comedy. We need to seriously reconsider consumerism as an economic model and capitalism as a central purpose for our species if we're going to prevent the extremely predictable side effects of transforming the natural landscape into landfills at the scale and level of inefficiency we're doing it today. We instead continue to cling on to the habits that have got us here in the hope that something (whether gods or science) will save us from ourselves.

can we really stop something that has been happening before humanity existed? we might be able to slow it down, but not with the current population on this planet, and its continuing to grow!

Even if climate change isnt something made up for political votes,

Most people dont give a damn. "You want me to change and inconvieniance myself? Nu-uh"

(How is this nerd/geek related news anyways)

Metadigital:

This just isn't possible. It's only looking at a small piece of the puzzle and it's making the assumption that technology will come in to save the day like the deus ex machina of an ancient Greek comedy. We need to seriously reconsider consumerism as an economic model and capitalism as a central purpose for our species if we're going to prevent the extremely predictable side effects of transforming the natural landscape into landfills at the scale and level of inefficiency we're doing it today. We instead continue to cling on to the habits that have got us here in the hope that something (whether gods or science) will save us from ourselves.

Emphasis added:

These are all very good goals, but none of them require us to materially change the quality of life of your average middle-class person in the developed world, and the reason why is the thing you casually dismiss in the first sentence; technology.

The reason we're having so much trouble dealing with climate change isn't corporations, or money in politics, or even capitalism(those are just reasons climate change is happening); the reason is environmentalists. Every time solutions are put forward that don't involve the average citizen flagellating themselves in apology for damaging Precious Gaia with our dirty evil "technology", in ride the environmentalists to claim it won't work, can't work, could never work, and all we can do is live in bamboo & recycled tyre houses, eat kale porridge and quinoa for every meal, and give up half the machines that allow our society to function. It's always all-or-nothing; for too many environmentalists there is no compromise, no allowance for incremental or iterative solutions through technology, just unrealistic demand piled on unrealistic demand, and the result is they've made it easy to paint anyone concerned by climate change and the environment as a crackpot who can safely be ignored. The corporations and their corrupt lackeys in government might be the ones manipulating the public, but they would be having a much harder time of it if the environmental movement wasn't constantly handing them more ammunition, and the people out there actually trying to create workable and practical solutions to climate change would be able to have a much bigger political impact if the militant-vegan anti-technologist sorts would engage with and support them rather than pushing "science bad! technology bad! nature good!" bullshit at them from one side while they're trying to deal with a tidal wave of "science bad! libruls bad! oil good!" bullshit from the actual opposition to the environmental movement's objectives.

FogHornG36:
can we really stop something that has been happening before humanity existed?

On the contrary, the global climate has been relatively stable for all of human history until recently. We effed it up.

Besides,

we might be able to slow it down, but not with the current population on this planet, and its continuing to grow!

it kinda sounds like you're saying "well, we can't really do much about it. So why not deliberately make it worse?" I trust you can see in hindsight why that's not a good argument.

We have the technology to radically cut our carbon footprint through infrastructural changes alone. This isn't the 70s. Renewable energy is very cost effective now, and its only getting better.

Whereas fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, are receiving huge tax rebates and subsidies because they're not cheap anymore. The supplies that were easy to access are long gone. We're digging deeper for deposits previously passed over because they were too difficult to extract and/or too impure to refine. Solving those problems ain't cheap.

The economic benefits of relying primarily on fossil fuels are history. The only reason we're still fighting over this, instead of rushing to green our grid to $ave $ome green, is the same reason we're fighting over net neutrality: vested interests want to keep their monopolies while selfish, ignorant, career politicians are eager to play along.

Ark of the Covetor:
The reason we're having so much trouble dealing with climate change isn't corporations, or money in politics, or even capitalism(those are just reasons climate change is happening); the reason is environmentalists. Every time solutions are put forward that don't involve the average citizen flagellating themselves in apology for damaging Precious Gaia with our dirty evil "technology", in ride the environmentalists to claim it won't work, can't work, could never work, and all we can do is live in bamboo & recycled tyre houses, eat kale porridge and quinoa for every meal, and give up half the machines that allow our society to function. It's always all-or-nothing; for too many environmentalists there is no compromise, no allowance for incremental or iterative solutions through technology, just unrealistic demand piled on unrealistic demand, and the result is they've made it easy to paint anyone concerned by climate change and the environment as a crackpot who can safely be ignored. The corporations and their corrupt lackeys in government might be the ones manipulating the public, but they would be having a much harder time of it if the environmental movement wasn't constantly handing them more ammunition, and the people out there actually trying to create workable and practical solutions to climate change would be able to have a much bigger political impact if the militant-vegan anti-technologist sorts would engage with and support them rather than pushing "science bad! technology bad! nature good!" bullshit at them from one side while they're trying to deal with a tidal wave of "science bad! libruls bad! oil good!" bullshit from the actual opposition to the environmental movement's objectives.

My knee-jerk reaction is to say that you're wrong about environmentalists.

But I can't honestly say that. Because I think about anti-vaccination a-holes. (curse Jenny McCarthy and Oprah from the dregs of my soul, in the name of everyone who died of measles this past decade) I think about people over-hyping the benefits of organic foods. (unless you're allergic, or a particular environmental area is exceptionally sensitive to what farmers do, freaking relax guys) I think about people screaming that the sky is falling because GMOs are a thing. (granted, there is plenty of bad laws and shady corporate bs. Beyond that, GMOs are nothing more than a tool in the toolbox. Besides, killer bees aren't GMOs, even though they are manmade)

I think about all this crap and lament that us moderates/centrists aren't more politically active nor taken seriously. But that's the price of living in a gerrymandered "democracy."

Ark of the Covetor:
The reason we're having so much trouble dealing with climate change isn't corporations, or money in politics, or even capitalism(those are just reasons climate change is happening); the reason is environmentalists.

Now, don't get me wrong. When I read this, I instantly wanted to stop reading. I have a degree in environmental philosophy. I also studied environmental sciences. It's more of a hobby for me than a lifestyle after my disillusionment with academia, but I still like to think that I'm informed on environmentalism. When I see an attitude like this, I can't help but put it next to holocaust deniers or 9/11 truthers. That being said, I will see what you have to say.

Ark of the Covetor:
Every time solutions are put forward that don't involve the average citizen flagellating themselves in apology for damaging Precious Gaia with our dirty evil "technology", in ride the environmentalists to claim it won't work, can't work, could never work, and all we can do is live in bamboo & recycled tyre houses, eat kale porridge and quinoa for every meal, and give up half the machines that allow our society to function.

You see, this is the kind of hyperbole I was expecting. I don't know of any respectable environmentalist who behaves this way. Maybe you're watching some news program where they get some crazy guy off the street to represent environmentalism? I have no idea.

Ark of the Covetor:
It's always all-or-nothing; for too many environmentalists there is no compromise, no allowance for incremental or iterative solutions through technology, just unrealistic demand piled on unrealistic demand, and the result is they've made it easy to paint anyone concerned by climate change and the environment as a crackpot who can safely be ignored.

I think I understand where you might be getting this sentiment. The fact is that we, as a society, aren't anywhere close to where we have to be to support a planet that will continue to provide for us long term. Even the most sensible environmentalists will call for rather drastic change considering the extremity of where we are today. Again, in the last 40 years we've destroyed half of all the wildlife on Earth. I like that statistic because it shows the severity of the problem. We can't just reduce that kind of economic growth by 10% or 15% and expect the future to be a good one. Also, we can't reasonable expect technology, which is what has enabled us to do this to the planet, to come in and save us. There are no examples of this in practice. In fact, if you look at the history of ecological disasters that we have tried to fix technologically, you'll see a history of making things even worse. There's very good reason to be deeply skeptical of technology. This isn't technology hating. Rather, it's simply not putting a kind of religious faith in technology.

Ark of the Covetor:
The corporations and their corrupt lackeys in government might be the ones manipulating the public, but they would be having a much harder time of it if the environmental movement wasn't constantly handing them more ammunition, and the people out there actually trying to create workable and practical solutions to climate change would be able to have a much bigger political impact if the militant-vegan anti-technologist sorts would engage with and support them rather than pushing "science bad! technology bad! nature good!" bullshit at them from one side while they're trying to deal with a tidal wave of "science bad! libruls bad! oil good!" bullshit from the actual opposition to the environmental movement's objectives.

Again, the narrative you're talking about is one you might see on TV, but that doesn't accurately reflect much of what goes on in the real world. The media presents a controlled narrative designed to promote a very particular way of thinking, and that way of thinking is going to paint environmentalism negatively because environmentalists represent a threat to corporate control and profit.

I don't know of any serious environmental thinker who claims that science is bad. They certainly question science more than the masses, who have generally adopted it to fill the void religion left in the secular world, but they also understand its power and value. What environmentalists want is ecologically informed science, and that is happening. Likewise, technology isn't feared or hated, merely critiqued as well. Finally, environmentalists most of all are the least likely to enlist the help of the naturalistic fallacy to further their goals. We all know that nature is not equivalent with goodness. That's why we have civilization. That's why we debate things rather than beat each other over the head and let natural selection take over.

If you want a great introduction to environmental thought, I'd highly recommend Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac as a starting point. It's mostly a collection of short stories with a small philosophical text at the end to ground an environmental ethic. You may be able to find selections from it online, even, and it would be one step in dispelling this bizarre view you have of environmentalism.

harrisonmcgiggins:
Even if climate change isnt something made up for political votes,

Most people dont give a damn. "You want me to change and inconvieniance myself? Nu-uh"

The reason I'm not going to give up or feel guilty using electricity is because it's not my fault my country, the US, uses coal and natural gas to generate almost 3/4s of our electricity. We should've transitioned to another power source (like nuclear) long ago. Same thing with cars, the combustion engine is a really old technology, we've should've moved on by now.

Ark of the Covetor:

Metadigital:

This just isn't possible. It's only looking at a small piece of the puzzle and it's making the assumption that technology will come in to save the day like the deus ex machina of an ancient Greek comedy. We need to seriously reconsider consumerism as an economic model and capitalism as a central purpose for our species if we're going to prevent the extremely predictable side effects of transforming the natural landscape into landfills at the scale and level of inefficiency we're doing it today. We instead continue to cling on to the habits that have got us here in the hope that something (whether gods or science) will save us from ourselves.

Emphasis added:

These are all very good goals, but none of them require us to materially change the quality of life of your average middle-class person in the developed world, and the reason why is the thing you casually dismiss in the first sentence; technology.

The reason we're having so much trouble dealing with climate change isn't corporations, or money in politics, or even capitalism(those are just reasons climate change is happening); the reason is environmentalists. Every time solutions are put forward that don't involve the average citizen flagellating themselves in apology for damaging Precious Gaia with our dirty evil "technology", in ride the environmentalists to claim it won't work, can't work, could never work, and all we can do is live in bamboo & recycled tyre houses, eat kale porridge and quinoa for every meal, and give up half the machines that allow our society to function. It's always all-or-nothing; for too many environmentalists there is no compromise, no allowance for incremental or iterative solutions through technology, just unrealistic demand piled on unrealistic demand, and the result is they've made it easy to paint anyone concerned by climate change and the environment as a crackpot who can safely be ignored. The corporations and their corrupt lackeys in government might be the ones manipulating the public, but they would be having a much harder time of it if the environmental movement wasn't constantly handing them more ammunition, and the people out there actually trying to create workable and practical solutions to climate change would be able to have a much bigger political impact if the militant-vegan anti-technologist sorts would engage with and support them rather than pushing "science bad! technology bad! nature good!" bullshit at them from one side while they're trying to deal with a tidal wave of "science bad! libruls bad! oil good!" bullshit from the actual opposition to the environmental movement's objectives.

Except that is more of a stereotype of Environmentalist and less what are really like.

SirAroun:
Except that is more of a stereotype of Environmentalist and less what are really like.

Thats why my knee-jerk reaction was "that's not true," before I let my disgust with new-age alt med SJWs cloud my judgement. And boy did I let it. I didn't even try to fight it.

So yeah, stereotypes. They're a real problem. They've done much to frame debates on this issue for decades. Thats why I prefer as of late not to bang my head on the wall fighting stereotypes and science denial. Instead, I focus on how the "economy-vs-environment" based talking points are ignorantly obsolete. Wind and solar are no longer expensive pipe-dreams. They're saving money now and can easily save us alot more. Coal and oil are no longer cheap, the government is subsidizing them like crazy. Until we adapt our energy infrastructure to this reality, we're just throwing money away. Its that simple.

EiMitch:
Instead, I focus on how the "economy-vs-environment" based talking points are ignorantly obsolete. Wind and solar are no longer expensive pipe-dreams.

If only oil and coal were the sole blame for our problems this would be true. Unfortunately, they only make up a single piece of a much larger problem that extends far beyond energy needs and into what we do with that energy once we have it.

If every country did like France did in the 70s-80s and switched their heating to electric and their electrical generation to nuclear this problem would be solved. And this isn't some theoretical plan, France actually did it! Almost 40 years ago!

Metadigital:
mighty snip

The short answer is, butterfly effect prevents knowing for sure anything you contemplate. Doesnt mean we shouldnt try.
That being said if you think about what humanity has done to this planet in the context of the history of Earth; its nothing, its like a cold, or a small indigestion.
What im trying to say is, none of this fancy talk is gonna change a damn thing, and none of the fancy solutions will until we fall low, as a species, thats human behavior, we dont change as a whole until shyte hits the fan. And when you think with perspective, were really, really far from that.
So enjoy life, do what makes you feel right, and if you really wanna help, be a scientist, and feel free to discover what you want, you never know what youre gonna need.
Seriously i've seen people make your very same arguments too many times to care anymore.

Metadigital:

EiMitch:
Instead, I focus on how the "economy-vs-environment" based talking points are ignorantly obsolete. Wind and solar are no longer expensive pipe-dreams.

If only oil and coal were the sole blame for our problems this would be true. Unfortunately, they only make up a single piece of a much larger problem that extends far beyond energy needs and into what we do with that energy once we have it.

Would it not be better to have part of problem solved than none of it though? Could we not work simultaneously on energy and on other things?

Yes, there are problems with solar and wind power and they will never work to satisfy our energy needs (even laying down entire earth surface in solar panels would not produce enough energy) but in the wake of mentals that do their best to destroy safest form of energy production - nuclear fission thats all we got. and lets face it we are going to have to do this no matter what. oil is running out.

So why can we not switch to nuclear fission to tide us over while we set up more green things?

It's really safe and relatively clean.

Or is it because people have heard about Tokyo and Chenoble (the Russian one) and have decided they are all dangerous?

Seriously, please tell me.

Also, aren't we still using oil and gas and such because the U.S. dollar is linked to it and if we stop trading in it, the U.S. collapses and there is a high risk of the U.S. invading your country and establishing freedom?

Metadigital:
If only oil and coal were the sole blame for our problems this would be true. Unfortunately, they only make up a single piece of a much larger problem that extends far beyond energy needs and into what we do with that energy once we have it.

I don't share your pessimism for a number of reasons.

1 - In practice, such pessimistic hand-wringing becomes an excuse to do nothing. You know this to be true.

2 - If we cut our collective carbon footprint to half it current levels, then the hardest part of the battle is over. This is very doable because...

3 - Even RWers outside of public office are beginning to see the benefits of installing photovoltaic panels on their houses. Even if they are too stupid/paranoid to allow utilities to install the legally mandated meters. They want to cut their energy bills and rely less on the grid. RW politicians are losing support from their base on this issue. And that means something in America's gerrymandered electoral system.

4 - A huge amount of our carbon pollution comes from the electrical grid. We've been cutting that down lately, the technology exists to cut it down further, and the excuses not to do so are rapidly going up in smoke. (nyuk, nyuk)

5 - On the consumer end, there have been significant increases in energy efficiency lately. And carbon-nanotubes promise alot more very soon. Additionally, there have been huge improvements in batteries coming on the market soon. This means...

6 - More efficient electric & hybrid cars are just around the corner. They've already gotten pretty good lately, and they're going to look alot better the next time oil companies create an artificial shortage to jack-up prices. And you know they will. Sales in greener tech spike every time they do. The day is coming that one of those spikes is more like an eruption. The greedy a-holes are quickly becoming their own worst enemy.

Yes, alot of damage has been done. But its not too late to stop it from getting alot worse. And doing so isn't a hail-mary pass. Researchers and engineers have been working on solutions rather than wringing their hands in despair. Get ready to reap what they've already sowed and are still sowing.

L. Declis:
So why can we not switch to nuclear fission to tide us over while we set up more green things?

It's really safe and relatively clean.

Or is it because people have heard about Tokyo and Chenoble (the Russian one) and have decided they are all dangerous?

Tokyo? Seriously? It was Fukushima! And you misspelled Chernobyl. Do your homework next time.

The three big-name nuclear disasters people talk about were caused entirely by predictable human error. Fukushima wasn't built to withstand major natural disasters relatively common to Japan. Three Mile Island didn't have clearly labeled indicators. And Chernobyl was shoddy in both design and staffing. These problems aren't that hard to fix. And studies have found that the perceived harm caused by two of these disasters (guess which one is the outlier) have been, to put it kindly, exaggerated.

Also, aren't we still using oil and gas and such because the U.S. dollar is linked to it and if we stop trading in it, the U.S. collapses and there is a high risk of the U.S. invading your country and establishing freedom?

Okay, I get it. Us yanks deserve the jokes and trash talk about war. Go ahead, let it out.

That aside, a tiny, but (as of yet) powerful minority of vested interests are dependent on oil. (edit: profits! That should've read "dependent on oil profits.) Namely, the oil companies themselves. Most other corporations are trying to clean up their acts, chiefly because they're getting hosed too. They resent big oil shenanigans and want to save money on energy, just like everyone else. This isn't Corporate America vs the world. This is big oil & coal vs the future.

Well there seems to be some constructive discussion happening here so far. I have a habit of turning into a bit of an ass when it comes to politics so I'll try to tone it down a notch. Make no mistake, politics is inextricably a part of this issue.

The biggest issue I have here is this model calculator seems to leave a lot of holes. The third world economy is going to grow and improve whether we want it to or not. Given how shitty life is in the third world I would hope that we would want things to improve economically there. Since China and India are firmly in the "developing verging on first world" category we can worry very slightly less about their growing energy needs but they are needing more and more as time passes and they represent a third of the worlds population right there. North America and Europe use a lot more per capita but we have pretty much topped out at this point on that basis. Imagine if we add another 2.5 to 3 billion people at our energy use levels. the if the rest of the third world hits the usage that China and India are currently at that is going to completely tap out anything our current tech allows as a solution. the only out at the moment is if we work our asses off to make nuclear as important and large a slice of energy as oil is right now. It's cleaner and as long as the plants are built to a solid standard it's also safer with proper monitoring. Chernobyl was an exception that was caused by every safety rule in the book being ignored in the face of Russia's energy needs. We need nuclear. Wind and solar work very well as supplemental energy sources but we need a new primary source now. Also the making of solar panels is a highly toxic process that kills people who are making them and is a likely future ecological disaster in it's own right.

Nuclear is safe if properly managed and on the whole it has been http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/. it needs to be watched closely because who needs another Chernobyl but it is viable. nuclear waste is a problem as well, but they are actually working on refineries that can keep using the same material over and over without having to dump the stuff where someone might dig it up and make a bomb out of it.

food is another huge problem and a lot harder to fix. I like meat...a lot. we're sooner or later going to have to give it up. Or cut back a lot. And we need to drop this ever increasing fear mongering horseshit over GMOs. if we want to feed this planet, we need to stop handwringing over what is needed to be done to increase crop yields. Like nuclear it needs to be regulated but in my opinion the whole organic craze is one of the biggest scams in food right now. Gluten free food options are getting up there as well but are only just hitting mainstream (whole different debate that, ciliac is real, the "ingredients" in a typical gluten free sub food item have little to no nutritional value and should be eaten by no one). we need to find better pesticide free ways to grow more crops faster on the same land, employ more hydroponics (very efficient production there) and get this tech out there so everyone an use it.

The first world using this is not going to cut it, everyone needs to be on board. The so called first world only represents about a third of the population at most, once China and India fully joins us and the rest follow, it won't matter if we are eating raw granola in a frozen shack in the woods if they are doing things the way we were 20 years ago. Every climate summit I have seen is showing India and China basically saying "my turn." We want what you have and no rules to stop us. Politics is going to kill us, just as it always does. We have maybe 25 years before the oceans completely collapse and once that happens we are really gonna see some shit go down. I have seen no solution for this, it's pretty much inevitable I'm afraid.

Metadigital:
-snip- ...and it would be one step in dispelling this bizarre view you have of environmentalism.

I appreciate the condescension chief, but I'll be fine ta. My view of environmentalism is formed from being an advocate for it and dealing with environmentalists from many different strands of thought over many years, all but a handful were totally unrealistic, and many were so strident you could literally see members of the public switching off when they were speaking. There's no tolerance for compromise; all technology is bad, all scientists are "priests of the new secular religion, maaan", and anyone who doesn't immediately agree that the only way to solve the climate change issue by ending our present way of civilisation has been "brainwashed by the media narrative" and so can be ignored or berated.

Go ahead, try suggesting to your average environmentalist that nuclear is the best short term way to eradicate the fossil fuel emissions from power stations and cars(in combination with electric vehicles), try suggesting that GM crops(combined with rack-stack altered-spectra hydrofarming in a closed environment) and lab-grown meat would allow us to restore vast tracts of wilderness, simultaneously almost ending the killing of animals for meat products, giving us space to reforest enough of the globe to seriously reduce the CO2 content of the atmosphere, and further cut any remaining transport and industrial emissions by producing food where it's needed rather than trucking it all over the place. If you're lucky, you'll get away with a condescending sneer, more likely you'll have to endure a half-hour lecture on how nuclear bad, GM bad, and if only everyone wasn't so selfish and would just give up their lives to live as organic subsistence farmers who ride bicycles everywhere then everything would be fine.

I guess it's possible, but I don't know...

I've always found a system that depends on 'continued economic growth' to succeed to be a very questionable system.
Just think about it.

A fundamental point of economics is resources are limited. That is the very reason for the existence of the subject in an academic sense! No limited resources = no need to worry about economics.

So how then, given this fundamental point, can a system function where 0 growth is considered fatal? And I don't mean that a shrinking economy is bad, but a stable one that is neither growing nor shrinking is considered a disaster...

And yet it should be obvious that you cannot have indefinite growth with limited resources. Sooner or later the resources run out... So a system which requires continuous non-stop growth as a basic pre-requisite for it's continued functioning clearly has something wrong with it, and will collapse somehow sooner or later.

Of course this isn't directly about the environment, but it seems to be related. How can we save the environment without damaging the economy? Well, clearly, we cannot, because we have to stick within the confines of limited resources, and limited capacity for the environment to absorb certain kind of changes without too much trouble...
How can an economy dependent on growth possible interact without issue with an environment where there are varying limits on what can be done?

Sooner or later, you are going to run out of resources. Or push the environment to a point beyond which it can recover from. Or destroy most of what's there in a way that can't be fixed...

It doesn't matter if we've hit that point already, or won't hit it for another 10,000 years, the point is, a system that requires non-stop growth will always hit that point eventually.

The only way out of it is to move from growth to some kind of steady state situation. And whether that can maintain our present lifestyle or not depends on whether we are below the limits on resources and environment, near the limits, or well past them...

The german green party has (in parts) come to the same conclusion as the article. They are pushing forward all kinds of technological advancements.
There are so many incredible inventions, all we need is to have mass producation. For example: Emission-free houses: Just the architecture and materials make it so you need neither heater nor air-conditioning.

EiMitch:

FogHornG36:
can we really stop something that has been happening before humanity existed?

On the contrary, the global climate has been relatively stable for all of human history until recently. We effed it up.

Define recently? industrial revolution?

TL; DR

massive global effort in Fusion research

<Edited poor typing>

It's not even enough to still live comfortably. We even need to make green technologies better (either in perception or use, but preferably both) than the old, polluting stuff.

Green movements who still adhere to the idea that the world's population should be willing to hop in a time machine and lower their living standards dramatically irritate the fuck out of me. Even though I consider myself a green as well.

Technology, progression, positive thinking and working together, that's the only way out of this mess we've made.

Step 1: Pour funding back into space travel
Step 2: Break FTL barrier
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Get off this rock. (Profit!)

Jupiter065:
If every country did like France did in the 70s-80s and switched their heating to electric and their electrical generation to nuclear this problem would be solved. And this isn't some theoretical plan, France actually did it! Almost 40 years ago!

The problem with that is the public's mostly outdated and paranoid views on nuclear power. Because of the cold war's nuclear arms race the words "nuclear power" instantly conjure images of mushroom-clouds and nuclear fallout in most people's minds. Add in the way the media loves to cater to people's fears (eg. Chernobyl is still brought up as a cautionary tale about how nuclear power plants are unsafe even though it has been thoroughly documented that it was human oversight on the level of unintentional sabotage that caused it, not to mention comparing the safety measures of Chernobyl and a modern nuclear plant is like comparing the safety measures of a T-model and the president's armored limousine), and we have the current situation where people would rather throw away our cleanest and most efficient way of producing energy (there are Gen-IV reactors that theoretically wouldn't even produce waste at all, since they can cycle their fissionables down to non-radioactive isotopes) just to alleviate the uninformed voters' irrational fears. Sad and infuriating.

Ylla:
That being said if you think about what humanity has done to this planet in the context of the history of Earth; its nothing, its like a cold, or a small indigestion.

It's closer to one of the mass extinction events, which is no small thing at all. In fact, we've had such an effect on the planet that we're starting to call our current geological era the Anthropocene.

EiMitch:
1 - In practice, such pessimistic hand-wringing becomes an excuse to do nothing. You know this to be true.

The problem is interpreting this as pessimism. Instead, it's merely stating that a plan to alter GDP by a small percentage with the goal of not discomforting human life isn't going to cut it. Focusing entirely on global warming is also only going to perpetuate climate change in general. Let's not confuse accepting the scale of the problem with pessimism.

Ylla:
Yes, alot of damage has been done. But its not too late to stop it from getting alot worse. And doing so isn't a hail-mary pass. Researchers and engineers have been working on solutions rather than wringing their hands in despair. Get ready to reap what they've already sowed and are still sowing.

It's already too late to stop some pretty scary stuff. I think the reason there's so much lashing out against environmental philosophers and scientists is that the general populace isn't quite aware of the scale of the issues, how much irreparable damage has already been done, and the rather dramatic effects that'll have on the daily lives of people in just another 50-100 years. They also don't realize how irrelevant one's own personal choices are for the most part, as more than 90% of all environmental damage is caused by a small handful of corporations. It's easy to fall into despair, but I don't think that's what environmentalists are aiming for. it's just how a lot of people handle problems of this scale and seriousness.

Ark of the Covetor:
If you're lucky, you'll get away with a condescending sneer, more likely you'll have to endure a half-hour lecture on how nuclear bad, GM bad, and if only everyone wasn't so selfish and would just give up their lives to live as organic subsistence farmers who ride bicycles everywhere then everything would be fine.

Though nuclear power is a hotly debated topic, I don't know any environmentalists who oppose GM crops or support organic farms. It looks like you're just throwing hyperbolic versions of what I've said back at me and combined it with positions that only reveal that you're not familiar with environmental thought.

Metadigital:

Ark of the Covetor:
If you're lucky, you'll get away with a condescending sneer, more likely you'll have to endure a half-hour lecture on how nuclear bad, GM bad, and if only everyone wasn't so selfish and would just give up their lives to live as organic subsistence farmers who ride bicycles everywhere then everything would be fine.

Though nuclear power is a hotly debated topic, I don't know any environmentalists who oppose GM crops or support organic farms. It looks like you're just throwing hyperbolic versions of what I've said back at me and combined it with positions that only reveal that you're not familiar with environmental thought.

Physician, heal thyself:

Greens vote against new GM deal proposed by the Commission

The European Parliament has voted to allow individual EU countries to ban the cultivation of GM crops. Green MEPs voted against the proposal, as the final compromise between the Council, Commission and Parliament was watered-down and unsatisfactory. Some member states will now go ahead with banning GMO cultivation altogether, which can be seen as a victory for the environmentalists.

...

According to Frassoni, "Bearing in mind that the vast majority of EU citizens are opposed to GMOs, the battle for a GMO-free Europe does not end today.''

Blog detailing Green Party of England and Wales candidate's support for vandalising publicly-funded GM crop research.

And here is the leader of the party;

"Natalie Bennett on GM: My first degree is agricultural science. I think that GM crops and the release of GM crops into the environment is the wrong way to go. The fact is that GM crops, as currently instituted, represent another stage of industrial agriculture, enormous-scale corporate agriculture that's completely the wrong direction to be going in in terms of the farming that we need... huge industrial-scale agriculture that's simply ploughing across huge fields, that relies on a few very small handful of seed companies and don't allow farmers to save their own seeds, it's completely the wrong model of agriculture. And there are safety concerns in releasing these new organisms without really knowing what you're doing.

[Asked whether she would align herself with Take the Flour Back(the vandals mentioned above):] Yes."

As for organic farming, the E&W Greens policies on school meals:

"Fresh fruit will be provided every day. Vegetarian, vegan, religious and other dietary requirements will be catered for. Meals will use fresh, organic and local produce wherever possible. Schools will be required to provide enough time and space for children to eat their meals in a relaxed and healthy way."

farm subsidies:

"The Green Party will encourage community supported agriculture, including farm and community box schemes, local farmers' markets and other direct links between growers and local consumers. We will assist locally owned and controlled organic marketing cooperatives."

and sustainability:

"A range of agricultural systems and practices meet or aim to meet the above criteria for sustainability, including organic, stockfree organic, permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry and forest gardening.

Organic farming and growing are well-established in the UK, with reputable and recognised organisations, certification schemes and retail markets. Organic production aims for long-term sustainability and has a central role to play in the transformation towards sustainable agriculture and food security."

...all emphasise organic farming. They're not alone in this, switching to organic farming is the policy of Green political parties and organisations all around the globe, check the Green Party of California's website, for example.

Here's an article from the Green European Journal that managed to both advocate organic AND have a crack at GM;

"Another obstacle for (organic) agriculture and farming in Spain is the policy of the Spanish authorities in favour of GMOs. Whereas across Europe an increasing number of countries are limiting or prohibiting genetically modified production, the Spanish authorities are welcoming experimental and/or commercial projects including genetically modified crops which in other EU countries would not be allowed. Yet slowly but steadily, municipalities and regions all over Spain begin to understand the threat to their local agriculture - still a very important sector in rural Spain - and declare themselves GMO-free zones."

Until very recently, this was the Greens' position on nuclear;

"The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to nuclear energy, which we consider to be expensive and dangerous. The technology is not carbon neutral, and being reliant on uranium it is not renewable. We consider its use, moreover, to be elitist and undemocratic. There is so far no safe way of disposing of nuclear waste. To a degree unequalled by even the worst of other dangerous industries, the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and its waste will be passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted."

It was changed to this:

"We will cancel construction of new nuclear stations and nuclear power will not be eligible for government subsidy; the Green Party opposes all nuclear power generation and is particularly opposed to the construction of new nuclear power stations, electricity from which is likely to be significantly more expensive per unit supplied than other low-carbon energy sources, and too slow to deploy to meet our pressing energy needs. Cancellation will avoid the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and waste being passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted."

Which is slightly more neutrally-worded but amounts to the same thing.

I can keep doing this all day; I've worked as a Green Party activist, I'm involved in the anti-fracking movement, christ my Mum spent three of the months she was pregnant with me at the Scottish CND camp outside the Faslane Trident base. I've been actively involved in the environmental movement since I was 14, and I'm telling you, they are going to fail unless they drag their policy agenda out of the fucking 70's and into the modern day.

inu-kun:
An interesting facet of climate change is that the western world needs to screw over the poorer countries to stay poor in order for them not to increase pollution.

This is a pretty facile take on it to my mind, just more blah blah "evil West" stuff.

The real problem is massive overpopulation and a complete refusal to tackle the issue head on.

Ark of the Covetor:

I can keep doing this all day; I've worked as a Green Party activist, I'm involved in the anti-fracking movement, christ my Mum spent three of the months she was pregnant with me at the Scottish CND camp outside the Faslane Trident base. I've been actively involved in the environmental movement since I was 14, and I'm telling you, they are going to fail unless they drag their policy agenda out of the fucking 70's and into the modern day.

Yep, Bennett was an utter shambles on the politics show. The wealth tax revenue predictions make Alex Salmond's oil revenue predictions look rational. It's so annoying because I am all for environmentalism but I am not all for a Trotskite forced redistribution of wealth.

First of all, this concept of an ever-growing economy is unsustainable. We measure economic growth in stupid, abstract ways that don't necessarily mean much for the day-to-day lives of the vast majority of people on this planet.

We have easy solutions to hand, but lack the socio-politico-economic will to implement any of them. But here, I think, are the steps that would fix the issue:

1) Cut off ALL subsidies to fossil-fuel-related industries and start subsidizing wind and solar at least as much as we've done for oil, gas and coal for the last 50-100 years.

2) Start switching everything we can to electric (cars, trains, factories-everything) and start phasing out fossil-fuel production of electricity.

3) We've already started making things more and more energy-efficient. Keep on that track.

4) Here's the hard one ... we need to reduce the number of humans on this planet. I'm not saying start killing people off, or anything like that, but we really need to reduce the rate of reproduction to the point that global population begins to decrease. My idea is to give every person credit for half a child. Any two people can marry or arrange in whatever fashion to have a single child. People who want no children or can't have children can sell their half-child credit on the market. In this way, people who want three kids can go buy credits from those who want none. The problem, of course, comes in how to enforce such a thing.

But there you go. If we could do all of those thing, I doubt our lifestyle would have to change too terribly much.

shadowmagus:
Step 1: Pour funding back into space travel
Step 2: Break FTL barrier
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Get off this rock. (Profit!)

Amen to that!

Let's go back to putting the kind of effort and energy into solving these problems (both green energy and space travel) that we once put into the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo programs, or fighting the Second World War.

Ark of the Covetor:
I can keep doing this all day; I've worked as a Green Party activist, I'm involved in the anti-fracking movement, christ my Mum spent three of the months she was pregnant with me at the Scottish CND camp outside the Faslane Trident base. I've been actively involved in the environmental movement since I was 14, and I'm telling you, they are going to fail unless they drag their policy agenda out of the fucking 70's and into the modern day.

I'm talking about environmental philosophers and scientists. You're talking about the Green Party. We couldn't be talking about two more different things than that. The Green Party really has nothing to do with environmentalism and has done more harm to the environmental movement than anything else.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here