Three new Climate Change articles worth your time.
Nutshell: Where things stand, why, and what to do about it.
1. Where Thing Stand: Worse than we thought
Published in 2006, the “Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change” suggested that climate change would result in a 5 percent drop in the annual gross domestic product in perpetuity, and that stabilizing the climate would itself cost 2 percent — a massive sum.
Last week in Davos, however, Stern suggested that his conclusions were wrong. They were too optimistic. In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: “Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”
“This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”
2. Why We Aren’t Doing Anything About It
Habit-The sheer force of existing unsustainable habits — personal, social, organizational, and governmental — reinforced by both lack of urgency and uncertainty about what more sustainable behavior would entail. Essentially, sustainability requires all of us in all of our roles to do things in different and more sustainable ways. To do that, we need to take the time and effort to change something we have done, probably without much thought, for a while.
Unsupportive or hostile law and governance is the second area of obstacles. As many of us are all too aware, the legal playing field is often biased against sustainable alternatives. Fossil fuels tend to get sustainable vs unsustainable developmentmore, and more permanent, financial support from the federal government — in the form of tax incentives and subsidies — than renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Politics–Political opposition and the growing influence of other countries. In principle, sustainable development is middle ground because it is does not put the environment over development, or development over the environment, but rather emphasizes both equally. But because it is based on a preference for sustainable development over unsustainable development, fossil fuel interests have funded climate change denial campaigns and political candidates who oppose action on climate change.
In practice, these obstacles reinforce each other.
3. What We Might Want to Start Doing
To Protect Nature, We Have to Be More Convincing
If you consider yourself an environmentalist, or green, or care at all about the life-support systems of our blue marble of a planet, one of the best things you can do to help is to convince others of what must be done. This is simple math. One person, even doing their best, usually cannot achieve as much as a group working together. But bringing others on board can be pretty hard. If you’ve tried before, you’ve probably noticed that people fall into three groups: Those that are already on board on one end of the spectrum, those that for various ideological reasons won’t be convinced even by a mountain of evidence on the other, and a large group of open minded but fairly neutral people in the middle.