About Climate Change

9 Mar

I like very much this article in The Guardian about Climate Change:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/08/how-will-everything-change-under-climate-change

Here is what Naomi Klein says in this article:

“It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when an elite minority was enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s. Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein
Sunday 8 March 2015 23.00 AEDTThe second in a major series of articles on the climate crisis and how humanity can solve it. In this extract taken from the Introduction to This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, the author calls the climate crisis a civilisational wake-up call to alter our economy, our lifestyles, now – before they get changed for us.
You can read the first extract here.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is published this week in paperback by Penguin, £8.99

The alarm bells of the climate crisis have been ringing in our ears for years and are getting louder all the time – yet humanity has failed to change course. What is wrong with us?

Many answers to that question have been offered, ranging from the extreme difficulty of getting all the governments in the world to agree on anything, to an absence of real technological solutions, to something deep in our human nature that keeps us from acting in the face of seemingly remote threats, to – more recently – the claim that we have blown it anyway and there is no point in even trying to do much more than enjoy the scenery on the way down.

Some of these explanations are valid, but all are ultimately inadequate. Take the claim that it’s just too hard for so many countries to agree on a course of action. It is hard. But many times in the past, the United Nations has helped governments to come together to tackle tough cross-border challenges, from ozone depletion to nuclear proliferation. The deals produced weren’t perfect, but they represented real progress. Moreover, during the same years that our governments failed to enact a tough and binding legal architecture requiring emission reductions, supposedly because cooperation was too complex, they managed to create the World Trade Organisation – an intricate global system that regulates the flow of goods and services around the planet, under which the rules are clear and violations are harshly penalised.

The assertion that we have been held back by a lack of technological solutions is no more compelling. Power from renewable sources like wind and water predates the use of fossil fuels and is becoming cheaper, more efficient, and easier to store every year. The past two decades have seen an explosion of ingenious zero-waste design, as well as green urban planning. Not only do we have the technical tools to get off fossil fuels, we also have no end of small pockets where these low carbon lifestyles have been tested with tremendous success. And yet the kind of large-scale transition that would give us a collective chance of averting catastrophe eludes us.

Is it just human nature that holds us back then? In fact we humans have shown ourselves willing to collectively sacrifice in the face of threats many times, most famously in the embrace of rationing, victory gardens, and victory bonds during world wars one and two. Indeed to support fuel conservation during world war two, pleasure driving was virtually eliminated in the UK, and between 1938 and 1944, use of public transit went up by 87% in the US and by 95% in Canada. Twenty million US households – representing three fifths of the population – were growing victory gardens in 1943, and their yields accounted for 42% of the fresh vegetables consumed that year. Interestingly, all of these activities together dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Yes, the threat of war seemed immediate and concrete but so too is the threat posed by the climate crisis that has already likely been a substantial contributor to massive disasters in some of the world’s major cities. Still, we’ve gone soft since those days of wartime sacrifice, haven’t we? Contemporary humans are too self-centered, too addicted to gratification to live without the full freedom to satisfy our every whim – or so our culture tells us every day. And yet the truth is that we continue to make collective sacrifices in the name of an abstract greater good all the time. We sacrifice our pensions, our hard-won labour rights, our arts and after-school programmes. We accept that we have to pay dramatically more for the destructive energy sources that power our transportation and our lives. We accept that bus and subway fares go up and up while service fails to improve or degenerates. We accept that a public university education should result in a debt that will take half a lifetime to pay off when such a thing was unheard of a generation ago.

The past 30 years have been a steady process of getting less and less in the public sphere. This is all defended in the name of austerity, the current justification for these never-ending demands for collective sacrifice. In the past, calls for balanced budgets, greater efficiency, and faster economic growth have served the same role.”

 

You might perhaps like to have a look at this interview by The Spiegel:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/global-warming-interview-with-naomi-klein-a-1020007.html

5 Responses to “About Climate Change”

  1. auntyuta March 9, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Naomi Klein says: ” Power from renewable sources like wind and water predates the use of fossil fuels and is becoming cheaper, more efficient, and easier to store every year. The past two decades have seen an explosion of ingenious zero-waste design, as well as green urban planning. Not only do we have the technical tools to get off fossil fuels, we also have no end of small pockets where these low carbon lifestyles have been tested with tremendous success. And yet the kind of large-scale transition that would give us a collective chance of averting catastrophe eludes us.”

    We see that low carbon lifestyles have been tested with tremendous success. What need our politicians do for large-scale transitions? Well, Naomi cites examples from World War One and Two how people adapted to shortages. Why cannot something similar be done now to avert some major climactic catastrophe?

    Naomi points our that recently a claim has been offered “that we have blown it anyway and there is no point in even trying to do much more than enjoy the scenery on the way down.”

    All right then, let’s enjoy the scenery on the way down!! 🙂 🙂

    Governments cannot agree on the necessity for emission reductions? Well, Naomi says that “during the same years that our governments failed to enact a tough and binding legal architecture requiring emission reductions, supposedly because cooperation was too complex, they managed to create the World Trade Organisation . . . . “

  2. stuartbramhall March 10, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Excellent point that Klein makes about the bad luck of having the climate crisis coincide with our total loss of power to a rich ruling elite. There’s no doubt the current global power structure needs to be dismantle the current power structure. The only lingering question is which issue is most likely to mobilize ordinary people to rise up and dismantle it.

    • auntyuta March 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

      It seems to me, Stuart, that our politicians have a hard time in all of this. Collectively they are not willing to rock the boat too much.
      Naomi says: “Contemporary humans are too self-centered, too addicted to gratification to live without the full freedom to satisfy our every whim – or so our culture tells us every day. And yet the truth is that we continue to make collective sacrifices in the name of an abstract greater good all the time. . . . ”
      The collective sacrifices may become more and more severe. Then there may come the point when people may increasingly be demonstrating for changes! Will the politicians be willing to listen to the people? We’ll see. One thing is for sure, It won’t be easy to dismantle all these vested interests and keep a well functioning state intact at the same time.

  3. Holistic Wayfarer March 13, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    The repercussions and the palpable threat (of rising tide) in some islands are frightening.

    • auntyuta March 13, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      We can do our bit by trying to change our lifestyles. Many people already have become aware about what is at stake, but sadly so far our politicians and the main corporations do not do enough yet of what would be necessary to do.

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