Monday, January 13, 2014

Stab The Beast?

We stab it with out steely knives
But we just can't kill the beast
-Hotel California

I heard somebody say
Burn, baby, burn
Burn the Mother Down
-Disco Inferno


    David Holmgren, permaculturist, has a posted an interesting essay,  (for a good summary see Stabbing the Beast )  in which he expresses his frustration and the lack of action on climate change.  In 2007 he had proposed a "Green Tech" scenario, which would provide a nice transition to a less damaging future.  He had  hoped that the increase in the price of oil would move people away from oil to more benign  energy sources.  Alas, instead we  moved to even less benign forms, such as deep water, oil sands, and fracking.

    Holmgrem sees less and less of a way out. He notes that the mainstream approach to climate change is turning away from prevention and more towards adaption.   He recognizes that any real solution to climate change, will entail less economic activity.  And also that we are unlikely to voluntarily sign up for such medicine.  

    Therefore he recommends an induced crash, triggered by people  refusing to participate.  He suggests that the economy is already fragile, and it wouldn't take much.

    It's interesting to see the response to this proposal.   Rob Hopkins , of the Transition Movement.  finds the suggestion unhelpful.  Although he seems to agree with the diagnosis, he can't accept the cure.  He continues to believe that a grass roots effort can lead to a steady state economy voluntarily.   He also notes that such a crash would undoubtedly would be painful for many, and would likely have unexpected consequences.   see here   

   Nicole Foss, a blogger with the Automatic Earth, has a different take..  She agrees with Holmgren that the economy is fragile, and her blog is focused on various aspects of the fragility.    Nevertheless she agrees with Hopkins that it is not appropriate to try to engineer a crash. But she does not share Hopkins' sanguine view of a smooth transition to a "steady state" future.   This is because, its too late for a smooth transition,  she sees the crash as inevitable,  and in fact very near - she calls for it to begin in 2014.  (!)    

     In her view, the size of  economic dislocation will be large enough to reduce CO2 emissions for a long period of time.   In essence, action to reduce further emissions will  cease to be an issue, a worldwide depression will solve it!

"The economic contraction that is coming is very likely to have a far more substantial impact on emissions than any deliberate policy or collective action. The combination of this contraction and constructive collective action could be very powerful indeed, but achieving the latter action is not best done on the grounds of climate change. The same actions that would best address climate change in the aggregate are also the prescription for dealing with financial crisis and peak oil – hold no debt, consume less, relocalize, increase community self-sufficiency, reduce dependency on centralized life-support systems.
The difference is that both financial crisis and peak oil are far more personal and immediate than climate change, and so are far bigger motivators of behavioural change. For this reason, addressing arguments in these terms is far more likely to be effective. In other words, the best way to address climate change is not to talk about it.  

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