America’s north-eastern states are on the brink of a declaration of environmental independence with the introduction of mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions of the kind rejected by the Bush administration.
Cool! But it’s not enough. Not even close.
I don’t want to seem churlish, but this photo-opportunity approach to resolving Climate Destabilization is, in practical terms, more of a twitch in a toe than something as significant as a first small step.
To put it into perspective, just to stop making the problem of excess atmospheric carbon worse, we need to cut our global emissions by around 2/3rds or 67%.
By contrast, the Kyoto Protocol was enacted to cut about 5% of emissions of ratifying Industrial nations, by 2012.
By further contrast, this project by NE US states would aim to cut 10% only of >25MW power Station emissions by 2020. The article states that “it could later be extended . . ..” I.E. it intends to make a 10% cut in one part of one sector, while leaving the great majority to expand unchecked.
My critique is three-fold.
First, unless this project caps and enforces reductions across the board, that is in all sectors, I would expect to see large evasions getting under way, not least being hard-pressed businesses switching back to coal-boilers from electric ones, resulting in increased emissions.
Second, while it does nothing to check emissions’ expansion in other sectors far outpacing any savings by 2020, if it does manage to cut power stations’ demand for significant amounts of coal, new demand for it is liable to come from households finding gas & oil heating impossibly expensive, thus further offsetting any minor benefit.
Third, it does not appear to raise any funds to be dedicated to the R&D and Deployment of Sustainable Energies, when these are states that could and should be developing technologies not simply for the US but appropriate for export across the IIIW.
Personally I find the third point most telling, in that the project only very marginally restricts fossil fuel usage, on a scale that is simply irrlelevat to the problem, while apparently doing nothing positive whatsoever to assist the development of peoples’ independence from fossil fuels.
I’m intrigued by the fact that it aims to get nowhere near even the trivial goal of meeting Kyoto of the mayors of 130 cities.
So please nobody kid themselves. This may be a twitch in a little toe, but its nothing more than that. Where it leaves those hardy US citizens campaigning for real change in respect for the climate, we’ve yet to see.
This action is beginning to underscore the real problem and that is – we’re too late. The individual States can attempt to enact whatever they want – but are often (illegally) overruled by the Feds.
The Bush administration withdrew from the Kyoto protocol on climate change in 2001, and restated its opposition at the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July, arguing that its mandatory emissions targets would devastate the US economy.
Which is what it’s all about. Money. Never mind that we are destroying our planet and ultimately, our “cherished” way of life. Why people don’t get this yet is a mystery. Money drive the economy – and the US government in everything it does. Iraq is about money (resources). Afghanistan is about money (oil). The environment is only meaningful if it’s about money (extraction of resources). If it doesn’t have a dollar figure surrounding the topic – we’re not interested, even if it means the destruction of the human race. Sickening.
So just how serious is our greenhouse gas emissions? Very. Global climate change is now upon us, which can be directly related to human activities. It can mean the destruction of crops, land, soil, and coastal cities, and billions of dollars in damage caused by “freak” hurricanes, tornadoes and monsoons.
But that’s nothing compared to the swift reorganization of the ocean currents circulating around the earth. These currents, collectively known as the Ocean Conveyor, distribute vast quantities of heat around our planet, and thus play a fundamental role in governing the earth???s climate. Entire nations and regions could become uninhabitable. For centuries. Or millennia.
If we were actually serious about saving the planet we live on – it wouldn’t matter how much it “cost” – but then again, we’re not serious, are we? I’ve seen utterly no evidence at all that we are. This perhaps sums it up best –
A few days ago Roger Pielke Jr. pointed to a paper (PDF) by Tim Dyson of the London School of Economics called “On development, demography and climate change: The end of the world as we know it?” Pielke called it “refreshingly clear thinking on climate change.”
That’s true, if by “refreshingly clear” he means weep-silently-apologize-to-your-children and-throw-yourself-out-a-window depressing.” Abandon hope, all ye who download PDF here. Dyson’s argument unfolds in several stages, but the brutal conclusion is simple: “In all likelihood, events are now set to run their course.”