Monday, January 02, 2017

Don't Give Up

For those of us who take the threat of climate change seriously, the future doesn't look bright. Thomas Homer-Dixon writes:

Now we also have to face the reality that Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States is calamitous for the fight against climate change. Because Mr. Trump and his key cabinet nominees are deeply committed to promoting carbon-based energy industries, they’re not inclined to believe that climate change is a pressing danger or even, in the case of some of nominees, real. The president-elect himself is ignorant of basic science and has an almost postmodernist contempt for facts or anything resembling the truth. He operates within and through a discourse of authority and force, not a discourse of reason.

For Mr. Trump, evidence either doesn’t matter or it can be created at will, which means he’s largely unreachable through evidence-based argument. His magical reality is unfalsifiable. Ice could completely disappear from the Arctic, forests in the U.S. West could erupt in fire, and a Category 5 hurricane could smash his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to toothpicks, and it wouldn’t make any difference to his views on climate change. (While campaigning in California, Mr. Trump denied the state is suffering from a severe drought.)

And the rising populist tide in Europe further complicates things:

Meanwhile, surging populist movements are weakening the capacity and resolve of the European Union, the world’s other main actor in the climate-change fight. Yes, there are some positive developments: California and some other U.S. states are pressing ahead with carbon reductions, cities around the world are adopting meaningful climate plans, and China is rolling out renewable energy at a breakneck pace (although its coal consumption has recently bounced upward). Overall, though, the scene is vastly bleaker than when the Paris Accord was announced – just a year ago.

Despite these setbacks, Homer-Dixon warns this is no time to throw in the towel:

In the end, it’s a simple moral principle – the Golden Rule – that tells us not to give up the fight against climate change. The Rule says we should treat people as we’d want to be treated if our situations were reversed. If we were our children – or if we were members of generations born later this century – we’d want today’s adults to be doing everything reasonable to stop climate change dead in its tracks.

In a world losing its grip on reality, it’s worth keeping such true principles in mind.

 In the end, we must do things for our children. Without them, there is no future.


Lorne said...

Sometimes, Owen, it occurs to me that countries like Canada live on a completely different planet from the one that elected a reality-show star as their president. We owe it to our descendants to keep fighting the good fight, as Homer-Dixon says, no matter the odds against success.

Owen Gray said...

Our parents' generation kept us in mind when they made decisions, Lorne. We should do no less for our own children.

The Mound of Sound said...

After reading the THD article I glanced through the comments. I'm sure they're not representative of mainstream Canada but, damn, are they discouraging.

My favourite part was where Homer-Dixon dismembered the arguments we're getting from Rona Ambrose and other Tories:

"Sure enough, folks who want Canada to curtail its efforts are repeating their favourite argument: Canada’s overall contribution to warming is so small that our emission cuts can’t make any real difference. So we shouldn’t do much, they say, and we certainly shouldn’t impose carbon prices, until the U.S. and China make big cuts.

"The argument is logically flawed because if Canada’s emissions are trivial, and therefore its cuts won’t make a real difference, then the same must be true – even more so – for individual provinces, states, cities, industries, and households. So why, in the end, should anyone anywhere in the world make any cuts at all?"

Owen Gray said...

It's the old Not In My Backyard Argument, Mound. And it is what it has always been: the rationalization of selfishness. There's a lot of that going around these days.