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The Paris Climate Conference: Playing Craps With Our Planet's Future


#1

The Paris Climate Conference: Playing Craps With Our Planet's Future

John Atcheson

The climate change talks to be held in Paris this December (COP 21 in UN lingo) are all about how much risk to the livability of our planet we’re willing to accept.

And the dirty little secret is, we’re accepting a hell of a lot right now, and we’re imposing even more on our children and future generations.

Here’s why:


#2

The glaciers and ice sheets are melting now, so why all the hubbub about 2 degrees C? It is far past time for action; it should be an "all hands on deck" moment for humanity. The economic system must be changed to reflect that. I don't think the modeling of what it would take to keep it to 2 degrees C is all that dependable and would prefer to err on the side of caution. Those who convert carbon power to renewable should win in the new system, as should those who greatly reduce their power use, as should those that sequester carbon via biological methods (especially those that are great soil builders). I educated myself and worked to leave a better planet for my legacy. Big Energy had other ideas and far deeper pockets. Everything's OK, though, because the price of gas is lowering before the upcoming holiday weekend. Drive on.


#4

We will need to envision a way to function w/o carbon fuels, the very dense energy source that has changed life on the planet in the last 500 years. According the Naomi Klein (This Changes Everything ) nobody except the so called conservatives have thought much about it. As I look out my windows, I see thousands of IC vehicles pass by. How are these people going to live their lives post carbon? Fighting wars will be out. Too expensive use of carbon. Too many people too busy trying to survive...all to the good. Klein also says, presciently, the way to fix the social problem is also the way to fix the climate problem. Help people to small farm, and shut down large monoculture production, for instance. This saving grace is before us: the possibility to save ourselves and the planet..as if anything else could work.


#5

Wow, that's just what I have been saying... small farms, land grants to anyone who wants to do this... and if you already have a house -mortgage forgiveness, cause, you won't make a living at first and still won't make enough to live...until the crash comes and everyone is in the same boat. Then your food will be very valuable and money won't matter anyway...only what people have to trade for it.
This is a way to create jobs, not building more casinos and promoting more professional sports for stadium building and flying sports teams around.


#6

Great article lays it out plain and simple.

It is easy for commenters to say we ought to fix things (well duh!) but concrete examples are more useful.

It is easy for commenters to complain about why we aren't fixing things (also Well duh!) but concrete alternative ways of doing things would be more useful.

It is too easy for people to say small farms and such but the fact remains that we don't have the time, the money, the will nor the land (Anybody want to give me a farm to work? I live in an apartment).

So here goes. It is not too late to do something about global warming and do it fast. One is a carbon tax to discourage the use of fossil fuels for purposes where there are alternatives. Fossil fuel use is cheap and that is problem. People act like we can't live without it but that is false. It is just cheap to use and so we've gotten to the point where we've used too much already.

Secondly, a Manhattan Project style all out development and implementation program for solar roofs like the one Hillary proposes will do more than people think it will. Initially it does a lot to boost the economy by massive job creation (installation, manufacturing, transportation etc) which means money will be there to do other things. Then it cuts carbon production significantly in only a few years.

But then what? Well it keeps going is what? It keeps installing solar roofs for another 500 million roofs which further gets us off oil. Other countries see that this works and emulate. People in this country see that it works and they want solar roofs too. And so it goes and keeps on going.

Same thing for wind power. Denmark is shooting for 100% of their nation's total electricity production from wind power in less than twenty years and maybe in less than ten!

As yet we see arctic drilling though don't we?

That type of thing is something that we all need to deal with whether by talking to our neighbors or contributing donations to groups like Greenpeace etc. Something.

After that... vote.

This vote will determine our country's future believe it or not. Maybe that reality is why Bernie stands a chance of becoming president. It is because people do see that the old guard politicians are too corrupt and we need real change not just promises of change.


#7

This is a completely disingenuous frame:

"The climate change talks to be held in Paris this December (COP 21 in UN lingo) are all about how much risk to the livability of our planet we’re willing to accept.

"And the dirty little secret is, we’re accepting a hell of a lot right now, and we’re imposing even more on our children and future generations."

The dirty not so little secret is that if WE, the PEOPLE, had a genuine voice in the decisions made through power circles in behind-closed-doors meetings, rulings, and martial enforcement apparatuses, the priorities arrived at would HARDLY "just so happen" to be those that suited:

  1. Monsanto and its genetic rape of the plant world
  2. The Corporations starting with the Energy Moguls who don't give a friggin f--k about what climate change cum chaos is already doing to millions of persons
  3. The political glitterati who exist like so much ornamentation on a dying corpse
  4. The weapons suppliers and their 3rd world 007-tyrant-wannabes who think possession of Killer Toys makes for power and the right to govern

Until this NONSENSE that conflates WE, The People, with the oppositional desires and protocols put into place by THEY, the corporate oligarchs, these discussions are impotent.

WE would live differently if:

  1. Leaders represented our wishes and genuine security needs
  2. Media wasn't given a license to traffic in deceptive lies told often
  3. Energy companies were forced to GREEN UP their technologies and not given tax and direct financial incentives to remain on their ecologically disastrous course, but rather, to alter the entire metrics of their ecologically criminal operations
  4. Law didn't SERVE and/or service the world's trespassers--from big banks to companies that leave a deadly wake of toxic polluters behind
  5. A global mechanism was in place to hold global corporate predators ACCOUNTABLE for their actions
  6. That more and more individuals--particularly those on the front lines of climate change--bring lawsuits that HOLD UP in courts based not on corporate cronyism, but rather, in compliance with the laws that are justice-based
  7. That referendums were taken in lieu of decisions reached by wholly purchased political players
  8. Protecting the Greater Good meant more than transitory paper profits
  9. Binding international trade treaties were not already in the works that anesthetize public input, legal redress, class action suits, etc.

Occupy Wall ST made it clear that the world's oligarchs are serving themselves. THAT is not what WE, The People, would do. So stop insisting that one IS the same as the other.

This frame is not what is needed. A call to solidarity would not be one that starts from a stance of false power, false attribution, and a false case.

Truth matters!

Mr. Atcheson PRETENDS that it is WE that's making these decisions in Paris. Ridiculous!


#8

Hey, Mr. Atcheson, did you perchance miss all of the scholarship published by Vandana as per the efficiency through which soil reconstitution executed by the world's millions of peasant farmers would INDEED build back the atmospheric balance, one soil granule at a time.

These generic dismissals of subject areas and approaches that don't comport with the corporate model and its insistences upon only its technological "fixes" as viable is another way of foreclosing upon any genuine and important alternatives to the status quo... as propped up by and for the (benefits of the) 1%.

More pabulum, of the generic one-size-fits-al framing:

"But when it comes to climate change, wisdom is obviously in short supply."

By confusing a so-called lack of wisdom with the lack of Power to Implement what wisdom IS known, an apologia for "business as usual" is put in place. This is the kind of chess game that plays good cop by pretending to identify with all those good people who care about the planet, while arguing that those AT the controls speak for ALL OF US. And thus--by its own framing--ALL OF US are clueless.

This is a deceptive and false frame as are the same tired memes about what human beings are hard-wired to understand and fix.

It's all about power and who stands in the way of implementing necessary changes on a grand scale.

Is an oily paycheck part of this "intellectual calculus"? Such a sponsor can't be too far from mainstream media.


#10

Siouxrose:

I don't normally respond to comments, although I always enjoy yours. I thought it important to talk about sequestering carbon in soils, though.

I did read article, and I am a big fan of using soils to sequester carbon, but at the moment, it simply can't handle the amount of carbon required to bring us down to 350 ppm. There are currently serious challenges -- for example, soils become saturated after a decade or two and cannot absorb more carbon. Even optimistic supporters acknowledge that our current emissions outstrip the ability of soils to sequester carbon by significant factor. (see the March 2014 edition of Environment 360 for a great discussion on this topic.)

As for your continued -- and vigorous -- objection to my use of the imperial "we," we'll just have to agree to disagree. "We" as I use it, refers to the collective actions or inactions of humanity -- whether you or I support those actions or even share responsibility for them, isn't implied. In fact, Siouxrose, I'm always struck by how vehement your condemnation of my use of the "we" frame is, when we agree on far more than we disagree.


#11

Climate is not the problem. That's just one symptom.


#12

What needs to be done to actively correct our foolishness is to shift all the national defense budgets on Earth to combating green house gas pollution. Every effing cent, farthing, sou or whatever the hell they call the coins in Europe these days. this method of assessing cost would be quite fair because the biggest polluters also seem to have the largest military expenses. So with over 50% of our own budget going toward this threat of doom we should have this licked in no time.


#13

Thank you for your interest in the forum's responses, my own, included.

What I was critiquing is the pessimistic stance that tends to view matters through the prism of those who created the ecological cul de sacs. Largely, it's their scientists and PR people who insist--as did Maggie Thatcher--that there IS no alternative.

Now some may think it offbeat, or borderline "conspiracy theorist" to speak of things as seemingly outlandish as "Free Energy," yet there is quite a bit of compelling material on the Internet that supports the FACT that this realm of energy production is far from mere sci-fi imagining. (I'd be happy to point to a few evocative sources.)

Just as some nations are responding to what they truly sense as an inevitable collapse of the U.S. dollar as propped up by Wall street's bloated fiscal house of cards and have, as a result, moved in the direction of establishing a basket of diverse currencies to serve as replacement for the hegemonic petro-dollar (as it loses its status); I'd say that a basket of energies and approaches--rather than ONE magic pill or ONE facile recipe is also the answer.

On the WE matter--which has come to mean a great deal to me lately--while no one in their right mind would argue that ALL human beings--by varying levels and degrees (and THAT is significant) don't have a stake in the health of this amazing planet, nor are all 100% innocent in the matters of generating food, consumer, and energy waste products... my greater point is that generic frames like WE posit level playing fields and EQUAL access to the decision-making bodies and levers of power when both are profound illusions.

When the citizens of Greece, for example, "just said no" to the Troika, what choice did they have when the money spigot got turned off since the entire world has become addicted to Capital for its major operations?

When 250,000 marched in N.Y. with synchronous climate events all over the world... in spite of these shows of opposition, the PARIS elites can and will look the other way.

When citizens, en masse show up to protest, the cops show force and bust these gatherings up. Look at the dire rollback to Civil Liberties that took place in Egypt after their version of "the Arab spring."

So this idea that ALL are equally complicit, responsible, and guilty of acting in ways that HARM earth is, as I said earlier, a disingenuous FRAME. I'm sure you've read enough of George Lakoff to understand the importance of frames, or considered the dark mastery of linguistic magicians like Frank Luntz. These individuals show us why language is important.

When the term WE is used, by its amalgamated nature, it subsumes all dissent and alternatives into a uniform frame. THIS frame makes it seem that nothing exists outside of itself for the frame of WE, implies something that is all-inclusive. On more than just subliminal levels, this assertion of ONE homogenous WE renders major alternative acts, mores, visions, initiatives, incentives, and remedies invisible, irrelevant, and without value... by turn.

Thank you for showing respect. I came down hard on you here. Needless to say, anyone paying attention has to be FURIOUS over all the senseless carnage to woman, man, child, nature, plant, animal, mineral, and even DNA's tiny genetic matter! It is ALL under siege; and those orchestrating THAT siege are identifiable players. THEY do not speak for ALL.

If writers would identify WHO or WHAT (entity) their use of the term WE specifies, it would go a long way.

Too many who leave messages (along with many writers) unconsciously create a seamless segue between what soldiers-warriors-the military and/or corporate oligarchs do--on a daily basis--and the American people as if we're all onboard with the great undeclared Fourth Reich salute and lockstep marching orders.

(I'm glad you enjoy my comments. As you can see, I feel no need to conform when I state my mind... as any independent thinker ought to do.)


#14

So once again, I see a great deal of agreement -- I believe sequestration is an important component of any solution, but only a component. And right now it is being used by the power elite to mask the full extent of our problem.

As for "we," I have a different take, and certainly few have ranted against the status quo and the entrenched power as much as me -- but if we are all victims of a powerful cabal we are powerless. I don't think we are. Look at Sanders ... is he perfect? no. But he is speaking for the people, and the people are responding, If enough of us do, we can get rid of citizen's united, and that could usher in a semblance of real democracy.

In the end, I believe we can seek to seize power for good purposes, only if we are part of a "we." In the end, our task is not to splinter into them and us, rather it is to make the "we" bigger. That's why I use it.

When you suggest that my use of the imperial "we" makes me and unwitting tool of the mainstream Dems or the power elite, or an apologist of them, I take issue. A quick review of my articles or my novels would tell you that's simply not so. "Capitalism as Psychosis" isn't exactly mainstream. And for the record, I've voted 3rd party in 7 presidential elections, now.

The dark energy issue you refer to is fascinating, but the physics of even finding it has eluded us so far. We know it's there by inference, but it is a long way from being useable. Fortunately, we don't need it. Renewables and efficiency are enough.

Yes, Siouxrose, you do speak your mind. That's one of the reasons I enjoy your comments. Keep doing it!


#15

Climate changes, due to increasing solar UV-B radiation are vastly under-regarded. Among other harmful effects, increasing UV-B also increases the solubility of mercury, arsenic and selenium compounds out of aqueous solution, toxifying the hydrologic cycle.

Fortunately, there is something that can be done, while at the same time sequestering 12 tons of carbon per acre per growing season; providing an abundance of complete nutrition, expanding the arable base, providing safe and effective herbal therapeutics and shielding the Earth from solar UV-B radiation. Anyone who is interested is welcome to consider information and ecological theories presented in my book entitled "Cannabis vs. Climate Change."


#16

The stark reality is that industrialized civilization plundered natural resources to obtain energy from the fossil fuels without understanding the unintended consequences of producing greenhouse gas emissions until recently. So now rapid climate disruption and ocean warming and acidification are irreversibly under way. There is a commitment to use fossil fuels to power the existing infrastructure that can only slowly be reduced by global policy decisions. All that will do is slow down climate change and impact on the oceans slightly. It is to be hoped that COP21 will result in decisions to adopt measures to partially cope with the unavoidable consequences of what has been done wrong. London, New York and the Netherlands are setting an example by adopting measures to cope with sea level rise.


#18

Every day where I live I see US using our cars to commute to work when there is a perfectly adequate public bus service. And each year I have seen more and more of US using OUR cars to travel into the city from OUR lifestyle blocks on the city's margin. If WE had any brains, WE would use public transport and bicycles.

Once I worked in Vietnam. It was in the days when people used bicycles or 90cc motorcycles by which to travel to work. One evening I was discussing Hanoi's transport system with a group of highly intelligent Vietnamese doctors and told them I thought it very good. They looked at me very quizzically so I explained that in Bangkok I could buy a $100 000 Mercedes and spend 4 hours driving 8km to work whereas in Hanoi I could spend $60 on a Chinese bicycle and cycle across the city in around 40 minutes. The reply came back, verbatim, " Yes, but cars are more comfortable". Now, 20 years later, Hanoi is an absolute bloody mess in regards to traffic, and pollution. WE make choices and WE choose to look at the short-term benefit to OURSELVES rather than the long-term benefit for all.

I have read that dolomite cement absorbs CO2?


#19

"... but if we are all victims of a powerful cabal we are powerless. I don't think we are."

Nor do i and many others here.


#20

Whatever agreements these critters come up with to implemented by 2020, will most likely be negated by the Secretive Fascist "Free" Trade Deals-
The people of this Earth need to show the Oligarchs that OUR Planet and Lives are far more important than their Industrial Cash Cows....
Once the realization of what the Destroyers are doing sets in, things will start happening fast- If I were in my teens now, I would be one pissed off and Radical person....Will time allow?


#21

Can there be any doubt that pushed to a decision, god will choose the natural world over the human race.


#22

We were warned about greed (mammon). We do this to ourselves not God. We have free will and an awesome terrible gift it is when we choose Thanatos (a drive towards death) instead of Eros (a drive towards life).

We choose this. The natural world was God's gift...what we do with that gift is up to us. We either preserve its bounty or suffer its loss.

Our choice to do with it as we will.


#23

But like a fever of 104F, it's a symptom that must be fixed or survival is unlikely.