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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 05, 2012

 
Another day, another proof of the desperate need to act on climate change

by David Atkins

MIT has a new report out on climate change:

  • The Copenhagen pledges will nearly stabilize emissions in the developed countries, but global emissions will continue to grow rapidly.


  • Global change will accelerate with changes in global and regional temperatures, precipitation and land use, and the world’s oceans will warm and acidify.


  • Population and income growth will fuel a significant rise in the motorized vehicle fleet and increase CO2 and other pollutant emissions, especially in developing regions.


  • While further emissions cuts in developed countries would be useful, such cuts will have less impact on global emissions over time.


  • The Copenhagen pledges begin a transition to alternative energy in developed countries and China, but they do not provide enough incentive to create the full transformation needed within the energy system (i.e., wide-scale adoption of renewables, carbon capture and storage, nuclear or alternative propulsion systems in vehicles) to avert dangerous levels of climate change.


  • While emissions from fossil fuels are sizeable, other greenhouse gas and land use emissions are also important and cannot be ignored if more stringent stabilization and temperature goals are to be achieved. Reductions in these emissions are often the most cost-effective. If policies to reduce them fail, a major opportunity to limit climate change may be missed.

Check the graphs in the report. Very scary stuff.

What's most frustrating about all this is that humanity has three unique challenges at this point: 1) an impending climate change disaster that would require an international Apollo program-style, multi-industry endeavor to switch to renewable energies; 2) a general economic malaise with huge numbers of people out of work; and 3) international conflicts centered around oil-producing regions of the globe.

These problems could all be solved by an international economic focus on putting people to work to develop renewable energy. People from research scientists to engineers to laborers to white-collar professionals would all be employable in the transition with real, non-outsourceable jobs in every country on earth; a global climate disaster would possibly be averted; and there would be no more need to bomb people in desert countries that happen to have oil underneath them. Win-win-win. It's a time of extraordinary potential for humanity.

But instead, the world's best and brightest are obsessed with austerity measures to protect the health of the parasitic financial services industry, while allowing war and climate change to continue unabated.

Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back in horrified shame, and the history books will use this era as the prime example of obvious solutions ignored due to corruption and lack of collective will.

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