Friday, November 30, 2012

You Can't Say That!

You Can't Say That!

Greetings Peaksters

      Below Richard Heinberg says what you can't say:  That we need to
have a recession in order to make 2 degrees.  Perhaps its not the
"only" way, but its the only way that has ever happened in history!

    But first , Kevin Anderson cuts through the BS assumptions, and
funny numbers of the  climate change "policy makers" , who are busy
jetting around the globe, offering soothing nostrums,  and Anderson
explains what it would _really_ take.
     But wait : You can't say that!"

In summary, following our previous analysis, science tells us that for an
outside chance of 2°C Annex 1 countries need to reach emission reductions
of the order of about 40 per cent by 2015, 70 per cent by 2020, and
over 90 per cent by 2030, with similar reductions globally with a lag of a
decade or two – a disturbingly short time frame. These numbers are strikingly
different from the sort of numbers we traditionally see. The typical
response is: ‘That is impossible’. In response, we need to ask: Is living with
a 4°C global temperature rise by 2050(' or  2070)' less impossible?
You can't say that!
by Richard Heinberg

In his November 14 press conference President Obama made a few brief
comments about global warming:

“There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious
way would involve making some tough political choices and
understandably, you know, I think right now the American people have
been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and
jobs and growth that if the message somehow is that we’re going to
ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think
anyone’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that. If, on the other
hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance
growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an
international leader, I think that’s something that the American
people would support.”

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, almost everything.

Yes, the most effective way to slow climate change is to shrink the
economy. That statement is inconvenient as hell, but it’s true. Sure,
efficiency and renewable energy can nibble around the edges of our
carbon emissions, but just three or four percent economic growth per
year would be sufficient to cancel out any gains we’d be likely to
achieve with solar panels and electric cars. Understandably, this
makes the post-carbon transition a tough sell.

But here’s what the president didn’t say—and it makes all the
difference in the world: Real economic growth will be elusive anyway.
For the past couple of years we’ve been enjoying a species of faux
growth based on massive injections of cash from the Fed and $100
billion a month in Federal deficit spending. Take those away and the
anemic residue of growth we’ve been enjoying will go too (which is why
so many analysts are frightened of the fiscal cliff). Indeed, economic
growth has been waving a long, slow goodbye since 1980: in the past
three decades, total debt in the US has expanded at three times the
rate of GDP growth. We’ve been hocking our grandkids’ future for a
little more spending money today. In recent years, the amount of GDP
growth we’ve gotten per dollar in new debt has declined. Whether the
debt-for-growth swap ever made sense, the fact is it’s succumbing to
the law of diminishing returns.

But it gets worse. The costs of climate change are mounting. With more
record droughts and massive storms we’ll see those costs mushrooming
to the point where they are equal to or greater than the amount of
economic growth the U.S. has been clocking per annum. That’s right, if
we decide to forget climate change in order to go for the growth,
Mother Nature will make sure whatever growth we do see comes mostly
from spending on disaster recovery.

So the real trade-off, the real choice we face, is not between climate
protection on one hand and economic growth on the other. It’s between
planned economic contraction (with government managing the post-carbon
transition through infrastructure investment and useful make-work
programs) as a possible but unlikely strategy, and unplanned,
unmanaged economic and environmental collapse as our default scenario.

Mainstream environmental organizations don’t want to mention any of
this because they don’t want to be pilloried as “anti-growth” or
“socialist” by right-wing politicians and powerful free-market think
tanks. The president won’t touch it with a forty-foot pole, for the
same reasons.

Some of us are under no such constraint. We can tell it like it is—and
we might as well do so. What do we have to lose, other than illusions?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home