G8 insufficiently wary of climate change

2009-07-10

in Canada, Economics, Politics, Rants, Science, The environment

Writing in The Toronto Star Christopher Hume has produced a short but trenchant criticism of this government’s position on climate change: Political expediency trumps fate of planet.

As Hume explains:

In the face of overwhelming evidence that global warming is happening, and faster than the most pessimistic climatologists had expected, how can such extraordinary stupidity be justified?

Inaction of this sort goes well beyond ordinary human idiocy; it represents a collective rush to self-destruction on an unprecedented scale. And through it all, our leaders smile and assure us they won’t let our standard of living be threatened.

The G8 leaders would do well to read Jared Diamond’s work on civilizational collapse, so as to better understand the extent to which civilizational success depends absolutely on maintaining agricultural productivity, which in turn depends on avoiding massive environmental degradation and responding intelligently to the problems that arise.

As I have pointed out before, it is a false to suggest that we can continue to enjoy economic and social prosperity without dealing with the problem of climate change. Runaway climate change could literally kill everyone, and even increases of as little as 2°C “stands a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society” according to the scientists at RealClimate.

This government needs to realize that climate change isn’t some minor political issue to be managed, but rather a major civilizational challenge for humanity. So far, Canada has influenced this process primarily be serving as an anchor, holding back those with greater vision and determination.

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. July 22, 2009 at 2:47 pm

10 July 2009

Climate Change: Two Cheers for Two Degrees

By Gwynne Dyer

“This is how the human race does business. What the G8 summit in Italy decided to do about climate change last week was much less than is necessary, but the very best that a realist could have hoped for. Some tens of millions of people will probably die as a result, or some hundreds of millions if we are really unlucky, but there is still time to avoid the worst. And anyway, it can’t be helped: this is the way we do business….

… we ought to have much more ambitious targets now, and strict penalties for those countries that miss or evade them. Our children’s future really does depend on it. But we can’t have stricter targets yet, because the international political system does not work that fast – and we have no time to re-design it.

If we are lucky, some early disasters that don’t kill too many people will frighten the world’s countries into accepting tougher cuts in emissions while there is still time to avoid the worst, but this is the best that we are going to get for now. So two cheers for the two-degree limit.”

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