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UN Climate Disaster Plan is not what Liberals expect

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the third and final part of its epic climate change trilogy: a report on what we can do to prevent it. prevent global climate catastrophe.

The answer will not please anyone.

The conservative media will, of course, ignore the report or dismiss the 3,675-page review of 1,202 climate change scenarios in the same way it dismisses any science they don’t like. including climate science): as a kind of liberal conspiracy.

But libertarians may also dislike the report – because it shows how libertarian environmentalism has gone wrong.

Like many seemingly apolitical actions (wearing a mask, drinking espresso), environmental conservation has recently become a symbol of political identity. If you are liberal, you save electricity, you cut your carbon footprint, you can even fly or drive less than before.

All this is nonsense – as scientists have said for decades – and the IPCC says it again in its report today.

Individual actions, however well-intentioned, have absolutely nothing to do with preventing global climate disruption. They can represent one’s moral values ​​and are a perfectly fine way to do so, but they have no impact on atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs). Worse yet, individual actions tend to mislead people into thinking that it is the solution to saving the planet — each of us “doing our part” and changing our lifestyles — thereby leading to to overcoming the fossil fuel industry and other large-scale, systemic challenges.

There is no doubt why British Petroleum invented the term “carbon emissions” in 2000: because it allowed them to get out of the way.

In fact, the IPCC says, what must change to mitigate the worst of climate change is our society. collective dependent on fossil fuels for energy, transportation, agriculture and industry. We’re not talking about my electric car or your turning off the lights in the bathroom. No one’s footprints matter. We’re talking about the entire power grid, the infrastructure that supports gasoline cars, government subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, etc.

There is a reason for optimism here, because, as the IPCC report details, the cost of renewable energy – solar, wind, electric vehicle batteries, etc. – has fallen sharply in recent years. this. Furthermore, there is now a growing consensus about exactly what levers need to be pulled to make a difference — Project Drawdown is a prime example of that.

But that optimism should be short-lived, because if the transition is so easy, why haven’t we (at least in the US) yet?

The answer is obvious: the fossil fuel industry, which has spent $452 million on lobbying over the past ten years, and it determines the political destiny of the entire Republican Party (and even the entire Republican Party). some Democrats).

Consider President Biden’s climate plan, which will make exactly the kinds of investments the IPCC is recommending, while helping those displaced by change adapt. After easily passing the House, it came within two votes to pass the Senate, blocked by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who, investigations revealed, owes personal property. his personal and political views on the coal industry of West Virginia. Nice Maserati, Joe!

If only one Senate seat goes the other way in 2020 (looking at you, Maine and North Carolina), the Biden plan will get passed and US policy will look like what the IPCC is calling for. That is what matters — politics, not personal principles and sacrifice. (Oh, and please inform any friends on the Left who think there is no difference between the two main parties. I am too angry to do so.) And with the 2022 election, it looks bad for a party that at the very least, kind of wants to do something about this crisis, the single most important thing you can do to save the planet is vote and convince others to vote, in the mind of the Earth.

“… the reef doesn’t care about your lifestyle. They are interested in an average temperature rise of more than 2 degrees, which will probably wipe out most of the coral reefs on the planet…”

No individual action can stop climate change. There is no such thing as “do your part” when we are talking about a large atmospheric soup. This is why the IPCC report has chapters titled Energy Systems, Buildings, Transport, Industry, etc.: because these are collective issues that must be addressed collectively – through through the enactment of policies with which the fossil fuel industry has fought to the bitter end for nearly half a century now. Given that climate change is an existential threat to human civilization, this is really all that matters.

The second feature of the IPCC report that will irritate libertarians is its belated emphasis on Carbon Dioxide Removal, or CDR. For decades, the environmental mainstream has downplayed most CDR methods, under the ominous-sounding term “geoengineering”.

Of course, everyone loves to plant trees, sure, but libertarians tend to balk at more important CDR proposals, like stimulating the growth of phytoplankton in the oceans. to absorb greenhouse gases (known in the IPCC report as “ocean fertilization”) or to allow aircraft to emit more dust in their emissions to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth. Why? Probably because of the risks involved. Or because the proposal to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, rather than simply reducing our output of it, is inconsistent with the liberal emphasis on consuming less, a zero-waste lifestyle and other virtues.

But coral reefs don’t care about your lifestyle. They’re concerned with an average temperature rise of more than 2 degrees, which will likely wipe out most of the planet’s coral reefs and the vast ecosystems they support. And to reduce those temperatures, the CDR is an arrow in the buzzer that absolutely must be used.

To be sure, rapidly reducing GHG emissions is the most important of those arrows. CDR is not a replacement for it. But, as someone who first wrote about fertilization in the ocean in 1998, it is a big step forward that the IPCC has acknowledged its importance to the overall health of the planet. This might upset some libertarians, but it could also save the Earth.

In the end, it’s not just liberals and conservatives who will find this report offensive – anyone under the age of 30 should.

My generation (X) and those who came before it did an unfortunate, pitiful, despicable, and morally evil job of averting catastrophe in the 21st century. We have live large, in our SUVs (still not as regulated as trucks are) and McMansions, in subsidizing our livestock industry so that the poorest of us always consume unhealthy beef and corn, and above all because of our laziness and inability to change our grid to not use fossil fuels and use renewable energy.

If there’s one thing this IPCC report makes clear, it’s that this wasteful selfishness cannot go on — not if we want to avoid mass famine, refugee crisis, displacement. , habitat loss, agricultural change, and flooding described in the previous part of the IPCC trilogy. (Part one of the IPCC series of reports is on the causes of climate change; part two, impacts; part three, what can be done.) Those of us born in the last century are drunk. love people born in this century. Our greed and laziness have left them with a world already in chaos and on the brink of disaster.

Honestly, it’s time for most of us to get off the stage. Anyone who doesn’t live to 2050 shouldn’t make policies that affect it. We’ve done an absolutely miserable job so far.

The IPCC report shows us that we can do better. We could cut greenhouse gas emissions in half within the next ten years. We can avert the worst of global climate disruption, though not all. We could – but we haven’t done it yet. That must change.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/uns-climate-disaster-plan-is-not-what-liberals-would-expect?source=articles&via=rss UN Climate Disaster Plan is not what Liberals expect

Russell Falcon

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