Monday, December 31, 2018

Thinking Of Our Children and Grandchildren

David Leonhardt writes, in  this morning's New York Times, that the number one story of the year has been climate change. It's been a year where the evidence of climate change has been everywhere:

I’ll start with the alarming parts of the story. The past year is on pace to be the earth’s fourth warmest on record, and the five warmest years have all occurred since 2010. This warming is now starting to cause a lot of damage.
In 2018, heat waves killed people in Montreal, Karachi, Tokyo and elsewhere. Extreme rain battered North Carolina and the Indian state of Kerala. The Horn of Africa suffered from drought. Large swaths of the American West burned. When I was in Portland, Ore., this summer, the air quality — from nearby wildfires — was among the worst in the world. It would have been healthier to be breathing outdoors in Beijing or Mumbai.

Yet most of our politicians are dinosaurs:

Amid all of this destruction, Trump’s climate agenda consists of making the problem worse. His administration is filled with former corporate lobbyists, and they have been changing federal policy to make it easier for companies to pollute. These officials like to talk about free enterprise and scientific uncertainty, but their real motive is usually money. Sometimes, they don’t even wait to return to industry jobs. Both Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, two now-departed pro-pollution cabinet secretaries, engaged in on-the-job corruption.

During the recent Ontario election, California governor Jerry Brown came to the province to plead with its citizens not to ditch the cap and trade program which had been built by his state, Ontario and Quebec. Newly elected premier Doug Ford immediately killed the arrangement when he came to power. For the most part, those who govern us are wilfully ignorant. They focus on here and now. Future generations are, at best, a twinkle in someone's eye.

It's the young who will condemn us:

Deep down, do you really believe that future generations of your own family will be immune from climate change’s damage? Or have you chosen not to think very much about them?

We should be thinking of our children and grandchildren tonight.

Happy New Year.

Image: Tunis Daily News


bcwaterboy said...

Like the economy, climate change as a threat (remember Porter's five forces and the ever useful threat analysis) is a victim of shortsighted gain and ignore the long term pain. Many businesses have ignored their own threat analyses to enhance short term shareholder gain, ask any publicly traded company of their number one goal, shareholder profits (newsflash, it ain't the all-useful buzz words job creation). Trump said it best when he surmised that he would be gone and not have to worry about the catastrophic effects- he put into words what most of the generation who caused it thinks. Therein lies the problem and sadly we will see the early effects of what lies ahead for the future generations, if they survive at all.

Owen Gray said...

We have more information than any generation before us, waterboy. It's not that the extent and the consequences of the problem are shrouded in mystery. We know what we should do. But we can't muster the courage to do it.

the salamander said...

.. Happy New Year Own, may your back behave, your excellent Indy journalism become more scathing and incisive. To all the 'go-to' journalists like you, may you all proliferate as well, into mainstream recognition, replacing 'cut n paste' fakery in new territory to curious and eager audiences. We don't really celebrate New Years round here.. there are dogs to walk, wondrous foods (jambalya for example) oysters ready for the shucking, here - and in my son's households (yes we gave him two lbs of Port Dover perch and a huge box of PEI Malpeque oysters) turkey leftovers abound, soon to be souped..

Meanwhile.. and I do mean 'mean' there are pompous mean emissions from Stornoway to wonder at, & from the preposterous Ford 'government' - the Trumpling of America and by default North America. We need our own Muellers.. whether Indy or Mainstream. We do not need echo chamber, trend o gossipy o th day or week.. We need Fact not Fiction, Action not Aspiration, Journalism not Pablum, Governance not Partisanship.. and Coherence not Faith Goldy.. or what Melania or other pricesses or Prince Kushner wore to the ball

Owen Gray said...

Bob Woodward has succinctly described what we're up against, sal. He says that there is a war going on -- a war on truth. Let's hope that truth, eventually, will win.

Happy New Year.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm left with the nagging feeling that we're reaching a point of social consciousness about climate change that we needed to achieve perhaps 15 years ago. Let's say we go back to 2005 as the great epiphany. By that I mean the point at which the political caste realizes they have to act for their own parties survival. If they swarmed the floors of the US Senate and House and of every other western parliament and legislature that morning, hell bent on doing whatever was required, at whatever cost, for as long as it might take to ensure the future of humanity, we might have had a reasonable shot at decarbonizing our economies and our societies.

Over those years, a) the challenge has grown significantly largely due to Asian industrialism and the rise of the new consumer class, and, b) the urgency of the threat would have been more manageable. Instead we now have a much bigger challenge, compounded by various natural feedback loops already underway, and a significantly narrowed window of opportunity to act.

As of tomorrow we'll be down to just 11 years in which to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by half and those cuts will have to account for the methane and CO2 the Earth is now disgorging. And, while there's a growing awareness of the problem, it's still short of what's needed to take control of the levers of power.

Most of us, I think, recognized that the day would come when the public, having had a taste of the climate change lash, would demand action. Many of us had the darker realization that this mass enlightenment would be too little, too late.

What most people want today is adaptation, immensely costly measures to buffer the impacts they risk from climate change over the next decade or two. I've yet to hear much clamor for long-term solutions. Once again the future is at the mercy of the present and, in this hyper-consumer age, the present is often merciless.

Owen Gray said...

For decades, Mound, we have ignored the facts. One way or another, the train from the future will arrive at the station. It's still an open question about whether it's arrival will be met with civility or open warfare.