We have five years to fix our shit before we destroy it

Looks like the server switchover ate this post yesterday. Good thing I kept a copy.

In order to cap our contribution to global climate change at 2°C over pre-industrial temperatures — a necessary limitation lest we do permanent damage to our ecosphere — we need to entirely change our methods of energy production within the next five years, according to a study by the International Environmental Agency. We’ve been pumping out more and more CO2 annually, and as a result, have completely overshot the IPCC’s “worst case scenarios”.

Fatih Birol, the IEA group’s chief economist, told the Associated Press:

The report said subsidies for fossil fuels have risen past $400 billion. Birol said those need to be cut and instead a price needs to be levied on carbon. Only when “dirty” fuels become more expensive, he said, will governments follow through on their commitments to increase energy efficiency.

The issue of the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Texas has been shelved until after the 2012 US Presidential elections, which is good news for now. But taken in aggregate with the disturbing images of the environmental impact that mining those tar sands has caused, and with the knowledge that the technology behind the original Keystone pipeline is definitely not leak-proof, and the fact that the new pipeline will cut straight through an ancient aquifer, it’s fairly evident that we are not mature and rational stewarts of our environment.

This problem is, like most human-borne problems, completely within our control to fix, and the same people pushing back against other progressive changes are the ones arresting progress now. Rampant capitalism will be our death knell as a species if we don’t start looking at long-term effects of our long-standing actions. The fact that fossil fuels are economically cheaper to use than alternatives (owing largely to existing infrastructure and hundreds of billions of dollars of annual subsidies), means nothing in the face of the fact that if we do not change our course, we will irreparably destroy the one and only planet we have. These fossil fuels may be economically cheaper to use than solar, wind, or geothermal, but they will cost us our planet.

I’d like to see an honest cost-benefit analysis of THAT equation.


  1. Aliasalpha says

    So to put it more simply, we need to get people to do whats right instead of whats cheap

    Or to put it even more simply: We’re fucked.

    As I understand it, australia’s carbon tax is supposed to be helping this but I’ve not heard anything about preventing energy producers just putting their prices up by slightly more than the cost of the tax so not only are they covering the cost but making a little more into the bargain

  2. says

    Ten years ago at the University of Minnesota we started a program to train up a generation of undergrads who would then go off to get professional degrees and then get jobs and have their hands on the levers of power with early training in understanding exactly the issues at hand. It was called (and it still exists) the Biology, Society and Environment majors.

    The idea was to get these people in place in time to have rational individuals educated in real science and critical thinking, etc. running thing, influencing policy, etc.

    Of course, most of the graduates of this program are currently unemployed, sinking under student loan debt, and hanging out down town somewhere with the #Occupy movement.

    But we did try, honest.

  3. Frank M. Underwood says

    Yeah,Mr. Laden-trying is everything. But succeeding is the rule.

    “Ten years ago at the University of Minnesota we started a program to train up a generation of undergrads who would then go off to get professional degrees and then get jobs and have their hands on the levers of power”

    Ten years ago, I banked on Asia, and sponsored a few Asians here to get their ‘hands on the levers’ before the race and gender nuts did–they were already strong atheists, and were raised with fewer problems of dummmied down, sex and class and race curricula that keeps them at each others throats.

    In the east, many women laugh at western feminism, and the gay paradigm, but they GET SHIT DONE. Oddly, today, China is on the verge of a gay revolution…

    The problem seems to be that here, the American left is just really hungry all the time–they eat their young, and nibble on adult family members who care for them, just before the snow hits. Almost as if they forget their allies….And they don’t listen very well either…

    Aaaah–but, Mr Thibeault(?), you gotta love Spadina, at the intersection of Queen, or Kensington–and the actual feeling of freedom–especially in the early spring.

    There’s this little Chinese Center just around the corner from a Viet Pho’ joint…oh, never mind. But they sure do serve up some good community, and a glimpse of the near future.

    p.s. sorry to hear about your grandfather.

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