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Is Climate Change Real? Who Cares!

11/14/2011

Image credit: news.softpedia.com

On October 29th, an Occupy Wall Street demonstration called Climate Justice day was interrupted by the first October blizzard in New York City’s recorded history.

2011 set a record in the United States: it was the first year in the country’s recorded history that brought 14 billion-dollar weather disasters.

In September, the US Energy Information Administration projected that on our current trajectory, CO2 emissions will have risen 40% between 2008 and 2035, which would almost certainly devastate global civilization. The International Energy Agency has warned that without enormous change within the next 5 years, “irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change” will be inevitable. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil (otherwise a tireless climate change denier) has signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Rosneft, a Russian state oil company, to develop offshore oil and gas deposits in the Arctic Ocean–something that will only be possible if climate change clears away the arctic ice.

But maybe it’s a load of horse shit. Maybe the climate change deniers are right. Maybe Exxon Mobil has made one gigantic bum investment, and maybe the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is happening at a rapid pace is an elaborate liberal conspiracy.

So what?

The measures necessary to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and prepare ourselves for climate change address a wide array of other immediate concerns. It doesn’t matter if you think climate change is real or not, because it shares common solutions with a number of other existential threats that are bearing down on us like a parade of runaway trains.

Think about it.

Image credit: flickr user phault

1) Renewable Energy

Investing in research, development and deployment of renewable energy technologies will help slow our CO2 emissions, and could eventually eliminate them altogether.

But pursuing these technologies solves other problems as well. For one, it would create hundreds of thousands of desperately needed jobs. For another, we’re running out of oil. Wikileaks recently revealed that Saudi Arabia overstated its reserves by nearly 40%, and now the world is turning to the carbon-dense oil sands, as evidenced by the recently-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline. If we don’t make the transition to alternative energy soon, we may find ourselves mired in an energy crisis without the resources to get out.

2) Reduced Consumption

We subsidize CO2 emissions with almost everything we buy. Unless your purchase was produced locally, using locally made tools and materials, and transported to wherever you bought it on foot, it represents an amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. We can mitigate climate change by consuming less.

That’s not all. Buying less will inevitably result in having more money. And it’s a logical habit to nurture, given that studies show that only our relationships contribute significantly to our happiness–not what we own. As well, if everyone consumed less, everyone could also work less, which would make more jobs available and bolster our faltering global economy.

Not only that, but buying less would reduce the strain on Earth’s dwindling resource base. If everyone on the planet consumed as much as North Americans do, we would need 4 more Earths. Clearly, we need to address that.

3) Public Transit

Investing in more public transit like buses and trains would reduce the number of cars on the road, which in turn would significantly cut down on CO2 emissions.

It would also create more jobs, thereby stimulating the flagging economy. And it would save on oil, which, as I mentioned above, is running out.

4) Buying Local

Image credit: flickr user Sneebly

Making an effort to buy food and commodities that are produced locally greatly reduces CO2 emissions, since enormous amounts of carbon are emitted when things are transported from away.

Buying local also generates more wealth in your community, and makes it more resilient to any future disruptions to the global supply chain. As well, promoting the local consumption of food improves food security, since local producers are more easily held accountable.

I’m convinced climate change is real. For me, the evidence is undeniable. But even if the science deniers were right, it wouldn’t matter. The solutions to climate change are solutions we need anyway–badly.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/14/2011 10:08 PM

    unfortunately, these immediate changes won’t happen if our economic system continues on the path that it’s on. As long as there is profit to gain, it doesn’t matter about 2035. Not to beat on a dead horse, but in order for us to make any real change, we need to re-evaluate on our business priorities.

    There is ample evidence that we today, have the technology and resources to provide clean and renewable energy and transport for every person on the planet, not just clean energy, but also other (unrelated) things like food and water as well. The problem is our global economic model. Companies will not provide clean cars at an affordable price because they are in the pockets of oil companies. Farmers today produce more than enough food to provide every living person 3 square meals a day but burn millions of tons of wheat and other produce to keep prices high.

    As long as human progress is in the control of those who profit from them, nothing will change. as the old saying goes “money is the route of all evil”

    • 11/20/2011 11:04 PM

      You’re right, we definitely have the technology to make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energies. We just lack the political will. It’s embarrassing (or at least, it should be) how much more the private sector is doing to make the transition to clean energy than the world’s governments.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jordon :D

  2. John Erickson permalink
    11/15/2011 6:49 PM

    For the ultra-righties, you can throw out the rationale of increasing fuel efficiency reduces exposure to foreign oil, often located in dangerous or unstable areas of the world. And we car nuts would LOVE less traffic, especially those vile gas-hogging SUVs. (And before the V-8 crowd jumps down my throat, I lived with a turbo 4-cylinder Subaru for 7 years, and thoroughly enjoyed the 30+mpg AND the 0-60 in less than 8 seconds – in a four-wheel-drive STATION WAGON! :D )
    That’s why I’d love to see a “displacement tax” similar to what Europe does. The smaller the engine,. the less taxes you pay. Gets rid of gas-guzzlers AND road-pounders (like my neighbor’s 5000-pound Chevy Suburban) that tear up the roads. It’s a quick way to shove unwilling Americans into smaller vehicles – much quicker than the (quickly) rising gas prices.
    How to convince the government to move? Ignore the GOP here in the States, and lean on local governments to push forward on renewables. Not much, but it’s a start.

    • 11/20/2011 11:08 PM

      Those sound like great ideas. I especially agree about the onus being on local governments, not only to transition to renewable energy but to guard the environment in general. That’s what I like so much about the Occupy movement–each individual group shares values, but they’re all also addressing issues on a local level. And that’s what needs to be done–we need to say ‘no’ to local businesses who want to ignore environmental and ecological considerations in the name of profit.

  3. 11/15/2011 11:16 PM

    You’ve made some great points, and they’re all valid, but it’s incredible how much resistance we face when people don’t want to hear about creating jobs and saving money if it’s tied to something they don’t believe is happening in the first place. We stop listening once we hear something we don’t like! We human beings are blessed with enormous brains… that we don’t always use well. :(

    • 11/20/2011 11:10 PM

      I think you’re right. But maybe these avenues will appear more attractive to everyone if we can demonstrate all the other benefits they have, in addition to slowing climate change.

      It’s like, “Look, climate change is almost certainly happening. But if you don’t take that seriously, then how about all these other demonstrable problems that will be addressed by similar solutions?”

  4. Anonymous permalink
    11/24/2011 5:02 AM

    I’m not sure if people think that will die before major crisis will hit, or they think money can buy them out of any problem, as the saying go’s “if you think your good, there is always someone better.” Well how about this, “If you feel like you own enough money, your WRONG!” Someone, somewhere, owns that money and just might want it back- war (potentially.) People should be let known of all the other benefits that can come about in this change of bringing about, Semi-communism :p Besides avoiding all the catastrophe’s we hear about, I guess that’s what Occupy is helping to do? We need stronger influences, we need people to realize and to care, without threats, they need to accept facts, I believe in the evidence so why can’t they?

    • 11/24/2011 5:37 PM

      You’re right–people seem to think all the crises confronting us are the future generations’ problem, not ours! But we’re already experiencing the negative effects of our deteriorating environment–see the economic upset and extreme weather.

      I don’t that Occupy is addressing the problems directly, but they’re certainly calling for the reforms that will be necessary to turn our society into the nimble machine capable of surviving them.

  5. 12/13/2011 7:27 PM

    This is the article I’ve been waiting for! Thank you! It really shouldn’t matter whether climate change is real or not – pumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere is irresponsible; burning fossil fuels is unsustainable. Why not take Climate Change out of the debate completely?

  6. Anonymous permalink
    03/26/2012 10:59 AM

    i think we are all going to die of global warming!

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