We must reclaim the climate change debate from the political extremes

Climate change is real, caused almost entirely by humans, and presents a potentially existential threat to human civilisation. Solving climate change does not mean rolling back capitalism, suspending the free market or stopping economic growth.

With those two rather innocuous statements, I have just alienated most people on either side of the climate debate. Today, climate change is no longer just a scientific or an energy problem. Instead, one’s position on global warming has become a badge of political identity in a debate riven by ideological and tribal conflicts. This bodes ill for humanity’s chances of addressing the threat before it is too late.

[This article was published in the Guardian on 12 March 2015 – full article]

5 Comments

  1. Hans Erren

    correction:
    presents a potentially existential threat to poor people.
    1 currently it is not a threat (see Tol)
    2 In the future only poor people are hurt (see USA vs. Haiti)

    So the real question is: how to get the poor people rich as quickly as possible before severe climate change kicks in? Nuclear energy helps a lot.

    Reply
  2. Clyde Davies

    A commendable, utterly pragmatic and ends-focussed analysis, as I have come to expect. You can tell how much it goes against the grain of ideologues by simply reading through the comment thread. The usual suspects are out in force, in particular that pompous ass, Giulio Sica.

    Reply
  3. Scott

    All good, except one thing. You can dance around the issue all you want, bottom line is that unless you change agriculture from a net emissions source to a net sequestration sink, none of the political fighting about energy means anything at all.

    The way to do that is adopt modern science based organic methods.

    Step 1 Eliminate all CAFOs
    Step 2 Convert the corn and soy fields that supply the CAFOs into either forest or pasture depending on the top successional biome for the local environmental conditions..
    Step 3 Put the animals on the pasture and manage them holistically with a primary goal of carbon sequestration and environmental restoration.
    Step 4 Integrate modern organic methods into the remaining crop production. Of primary importance is no til, companion planting, multi species cover crops, and integrated animal husbandry.

    This is the PRIMARY need to address AGW. Only after this has been adopted world wide does alternative energy have any chances of being effective. The reason for this is the simple fact that we already have far too much CO2 in the atmosphere, and without a means to draw that down, AGW will continue for hundreds if not thousands of years, even at zero emissions.

    Reply
  4. Eric Adler

    i disagree with the article section that blames the left for politicization of the issue of human caused global warming. The politicization originated with right wing think tanks in the US in the early 90’s, when the science started to show global warming was happening and would intensify in the future as more CO2 piled up in the atmosphere due to fossil fuel combustion. The same free market ideologues who opposed regulation of cigarette smoking, started opposing the science of climate change, to ward off the regulation that would follow acceptance of the science. They employed some of the same retired scientists who shilled for the cigarette industry, Seitz and Singer.
    It doesn’t make sense to blame Naomi Klein’s current book for what happened over 20 years ago.

    Reply
  5. Russell Seitz

    I can hardly disagree with Mark’s position, as it recapitiulates much of the scientific riot act I read to my Republican brethren seven years ago

    Reply

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