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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
Yesterday I commented on the arbitrariness and inadequacy of the Copenhagen Accord, as confirmed by a new report from the United Nations Environment Program and the World Resources Institute. In the closing paragraph, I offered the following observation:
“The fruits of solving the climate change crisis – renewable energy, a vast reduction in global pollution – will benefit all human beings, regardless of whether the purported dangers of global warming are exaggerated or not.”
Unsurprisingly, I received the following comment from an unabashed climate change denier:
No reasonable evidence apart from a few shaky correlations have emerged to support the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis.
Therefore, considering as we have not even approached the temperatures of the Holocene Maximum (and other historical warm periods) (where CO2 concentrations were low) the whole of AGW theory is falling apart, and most people are seeing the duplicity.
I would not give a penny to help reduce emissions of that life giving gas CO2 let alone encouraging the breaking of our economies to try and stop the world from ending, and most sensible people are doing the same.
In other words ‘Are you Serious?’”
It is always nice to see world leaders attempting to address the climate change crisis, but as usual the proposed solutions fall far short of what is required:
“If countries follow through on the pledges they made in Copenhagen last year, the world could achieve 60 percent of the emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change. At last year’s climate negotiations in Copenhagen, world leaders pledged to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). A new report from the United Nations Environment Program and the World Resources Institute released Tuesday indicates that while the pledges don’t go far enough, following through on them would at least put the world on the right path.”
The gist of the article is that a plurality of nations has pledged to curb the growth of their future greenhouse gas emissions. The pledge is not to reduce emissions at all, but merely to reduce the rate of increase:
The Atlantic has an article about the renowned physicist Freeman Dyson and his inexplicable denial of the reality and implications of climate change. The article provides a fascinating insight into the life of one of our great “deep thinkers,” as the author, Kenneth Brower, attempts to reconcile Dyson’s indisputable genius with his apparent oversight on the issue of climate change. As Brower mused, turning a decidedly arrogant comment by Dyson on its head, “how could someone as smart as Freeman Dyson be so dumb?” Indeed, it is a great challenge to understand how someone as obviously intelligent as Dyson could hold the views described in this excerpt:
Among intelligent nonexperts who have weighed in on climate change, Freeman Dyson has become, now that Michael Crichton is dead, perhaps our most prominent global-warming skeptic. Charlie Rose began his interview with questions about the climate. Dyson answered that he remained very skeptical about the dangers of global warming. He did not believe the pronouncements of the experts. He did not claim to be an expert himself, so he would not argue the details with anybody; he had not given much time to the issue and did not pretend to know the real answers, but what he knew for sure was that the global-warming experts did not know the answers, either.
Dyson did not deny that the world was getting warmer. What he doubted was the models of the climatologists, and the grave consequences they predicted, and the supposition that global warming is bad. “I went to Greenland myself, where the warming is most extreme,” he said. “And it’s quite spectacular, of course, what you see in Greenland. But what is also true is, the people there love it. The people there hope it continues. It makes their lives a lot more pleasant.”
Now, it is important to highlight the fact that Dyson is not a denier of climate change. He recognizes that it is happening, but he disputes its supposed severity. He seems to be under the misguided impression that global warming is potentially a good thing for our planet and the species that inhabit it, as clearly demonstrated in quoted passage above. In matters of mathematics, physics and engineering, Dyson possesses an intellect that is almost without peer. And yet his reasoning on the issue of climate change seems exceedingly rudimentary – childish, even.
Dyson’s opinions on the matter are shared by a large percentage of Americans, including Dyson’s belief that the fruits of science and technology will eventually save us from the worst dangers of climate change. However, until very recently most Americans were reluctant to even admit that climate change was actually occurring. It has only been within the last decade – and mostly within the last half-decade – that the effects of climatic shifts became so apparent that all but the most fool-hardy skeptics could continue to deny its existence.
Obama’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times today is puzzling. Its vagueness is disturbingly reminiscent of his 2008 campaign, filled with hollow platitudes but nothing new or concrete. The thrust of the article was, on its surface, two-fold: we need to increase our exports to Asia, while simultaneously forging closer economic ties in general.
Admittedly, it is hard to disagree with statements like the following:
“We need to rebuild on a new, stronger foundation for economic growth. And part of that foundation involves doing what Americans have always done best: discovering, creating and building products that are sold all over the world.”
The problem with this statement, as with most of the words that emanate from Obama, is that it is decidedly short on specifics. What kind of products is he suggesting we export? Pencils? Peanuts? The United States these days produces little other than pharmaceuticals, weapons and crops – all of which are currently exported, but clearly are not enough to remedy the record trade imbalances we are recording.
Interestingly, China is not even mentioned in the article, in spite of the obvious fact that it is the world’s number one exporter, and is on pace to soon become the world’s largest economy. It has already surpassed the United States as being the world’s largest consumer of energy, a milestone which received far too little attention here in the States.
To me, the article reeked of desperation. The U.S. economy is, in many ways, being held afloat by the Chinese government. If not for the billions of dollars they purchase each day, the dollar would collapse. If at some point in the future China realizes it no longer needs the U.S. market for its products, these dollars will come flooding back into our economy, causing massive inflation and an economic crisis unparalleled since the Great Depression.
Clearly, Obama is aware of this. And, wisely, it seems he is attempting to forge ties with other members of the Asian economic powerhouse, realizing that our tenuous relationship with China is dangerous for our long-term wellbeing. The problem is, South Korea, Japan and other prosperous Asian nations are equally aware of the impending doom facing the US dollar, so Obama’s outreach could potentially be perceived as groveling – that’s certainly the feeling I got from reading his Op-Ed piece.
The fact is, we will be unable to dig ourselves out of this treacherous trade imbalance without having some sort of specialized product or service to offer. As it stands, we can offer nothing that members of the G-20 cannot find elsewhere – and likely of better quality. Obama hasn’t even proffered a hint as to what goods and services we might hope to export – he merely says, in Bush-esque simplicity, that “exportin’ is good. Hyuk, hyuk.”
Sadly, at this moment in history there couldn’t be a more obvious opportunity for developing specialized goods and services for a momentous change that is quickly and inevitably approaching: the green revolution. The evidence is mounting that climate change is not only real, but happening at a rate far more rapid than even the most pessimistic scientists had predicted. Even ordinary Americans are starting to wake up to the consensus that has been held by the scientific – and international – community for decades.
Regardless of the various forecasts of climate change that one ascribes to, it remains clear that green technology is the way of the future. The United States, led by a charismatic president such as Obama, could take advantage of this coming paradigm shift by leading the way with cutting-edge green technology. The Obama administration should be focusing on developing new and more efficient ways of harvesting renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. Instead, Obama talks about “clean coal” and nuclear fission, relics of our past which should be left to rot in obsolescence. Obama could create mandates for the production of high-performance, zero-emission electric cars, such as those that were in development more than a decade ago (as detailed in “Who Killed the Electric Car?”).
But instead, we receive nothing from Obama but the usual vacuous platitudes about the need to change and rebuild. In the meantime business continues as usual, and the United States continues its long dark slide into economic and political ruin.