How did we miss the sweet spot?

Written By: - Date published: 11:15 am, April 20th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

This fascinating article (with many links) describes some of the radical technologies America is considering to address the urgent problem of global warming.

… global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth’s air …

One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays.

Ohh this is going to end well don’t you think? How did we get here? First the problem of global warming was too distant, too unproven, to be worth doing anything about. Now all of a sudden it is too late, too urgent, for sensible measures like reducing carbon emissions to work effectively. Now we need to start clutching at quick fix solutions. How did we miss the sweet spot? How long exactly was the window between too early and too late?

I think the author (Andrew Gilkson) pretty much sums it up:

That global climate change has reached an impasse whereby the “powers-to-be” are entertaining climate geoengineering mitigation, instead of the urgent deep reduction of carbon emissions required by science, represents the ultimate moral bankruptcy of institutions and a failure of democracy.

19 comments on “How did we miss the sweet spot?”

  1. Bill 1

    Holdren compared the way humanity is facing dangerous climate change to passengers in a car with bad brakes heading toward a cliff in a fog, saying, “The sensible passengers will certainly say: ‘Let’s put on the brakes, even if we don’t know it will save us. It may be too late. We don’t know exactly where the cliff is…. Let’s get on with it.'”

    How about turning the bloody steering wheel? Or even better, open the doors and abandon the bullshit technology that’s carrying you over the edge?

    Em, because the particular technology is not the problem? Of course! The cliff and the fog (ie nature) is the problem. Nothing wrong with our technologies, just nature’s inability to deal with it.

    So if we tweak it here and tweak it there ( profitable) and ‘civilise’ nature in the same vein we ‘civilised’ most of humanity….make it succumb; subject it to our ‘better’ ways, make it behave ‘correctly’…then hey!…done deal, everything sweet.

    We’re fucked.

  2. jerry 2

    “So if we tweak it here and tweak it there ( profitable) and ‘civilise’ nature in the same vein we ‘civilised’ most of humanity .make it succumb; subject it to our ‘better’ ways, make it behave ‘correctly’ then hey! done deal, everything sweet.”

    Not sure if that analogy is so great – this is sort of what we achieve with immunisation which would be a stretch to argue against.

    • Bill 2.1

      I was alluding more to arrogant and destructive colonial attitudes in the section of my comment you cut and pasted, and suggesting those same attitudes are now being applied to climate change.

      I don’t think of climate change as the problem. The problem is our activity. The techno fixers want more of the same activity…just enhanced and grander in scale. In doing so they miss the whole point and will probably exacerbate climate change.

      I have not yet come across a single techno fix that upon close examination doesn’t just completely fall over. However, I notice the news outlets are developing a habit of unquestionably announcing this or that new technology as ‘the solution’ thus allowing us the illusory comfort of sitting back and leaving it to ‘them’ to develop their wee solutions and sort it all out. (microwaved woodchips was a classic of late)

      Going on your misreading of my comment’s intent. If I have a sore head then a pharmaceutical techno fix can help. But if I have a sore head because it’s jammed in a vice? Give me all the painkillers you want. The problem wont go away because the problem is not being addressed.

      • jerry 2.1.1

        If you have your head jammed in a vice perhaps antipsychotics would be in order ?

        The greatest problem (from an NZ perspective) of the problem being activity is that to substantively decrease that activity would have a fairly grave impact on our major export earners, and as many have pointed out previously any reduction in NZ activity makes not a jot of difference if the rest of the world continues as they are.

        • Bill

          The major export earners don’t give a shit about you or me or anyone else. So why should we care about their precious profits?

          There isn’t the space to go into this here, but maybe you’ll take time to contemplate all the things that are made all over the world that are nothing beyond superfluous pap…the environmental cost of built in obsolescence….the unnecessary service industries and the tiers of outlets that exist only to cater for those (unnecessary) workers …the insanity and deleterious consequences of driving to a (perhaps) unnecessary job where your primary task is to make anonymous shareholders $$$$…..the destructive technologies we could have replaced years ago were it not for vested interests and profit motives (fishing, mining, power generation techniques etc, etc)….there’s a bloody endless list of things we do and things we manufacture and extract that are of no real social worth;that we could simply disengage from and that would go some ways to alleviating the unfolding climatic disaster.

          But for the profit motive. Those ‘earners’.

          • jerry

            Bill raving won’t do you much good – nor will gutting the NZ farming sector do anything for the climate although it would be an excellent way to screw the country.

          • Kevyn Miller

            “I have not yet come across a single techno fix that upon close examination doesn’t just completely fall over.”

            If you examine Newton’s Laws and Eistein’s Theories closely closely enough they “completely fall over” too. Well, not completely of course, just a little bit here and there. Just like most techno fixes they only fall over if you are judging them as a unifying theory, which they aren’t. but they vital building blocks of one.

            That may not be a very good analogy. IMHO your analogies both need to be taken a step further to reveal root cause of the problem.

            Whose driving the car?

            If the ‘vice’ is the profit motive, then why don’t we just use our hands to undo the vice? Possibly because our hands are tied by the suprapolitical masters who have been controlling both capitalism and communism for a hundred years. Not being fascetious, just capitalism and communism have been equally disastrous for the environment and societies. Either the same perverse human nature raised the same types of monsters to the top in both in both political systems or both political systems were actually being controlled by the same people.

            If the latter is the case then history tells us they have no respect for humanity…cannon fodder mentality. As long as they think they can survive climate change then they probably think climate change is the ‘ultimate solution’ to poverty.

            If the former is the case that same perverse human nature will lead to civilisation taking ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ to a whole new level.

  3. John Dalley 3

    What’s more staggering about this is the fact that the NZ climate deniers, John Key, Rodney Hide and co still have their heads stuck firmly up their A***E

  4. Felix 4

    How the fuck did NZ get so stupid as to elect a bunch of retarded Actoids and Nats who think they can just ignore the world’s largest and most pressing issues?

    • Pascal's bookie 4.1

      It was their turn Felix. You elitist fuckburger. Yes they is retarded and don’t seem to be doing much with regard to the making of the sense and stuff, but it was their turn.

      And Labour was, like you, elitist see. You need to come to grips with the fact that balggedy blagh blah snargle. Shit sorry. Labour is out of touch with the people and so on, so forth.

  5. ripp0 5

    Oh lordie, I’ve no sooner commented elsewhere on the possibility of human society raising a risk PERVERSE generation or two.. than this comes up.!!

    But – and I address myself to the naughty guest blogger here – with specific oversight arising from the third paragraph down in the linked material supplied above — viz its three highly rational words “avoid rash deployment”..

    AND pertaining to the blog’s sensationalist ‘highglights or lowlights or whatever’.

    You understand my relectance to encourage certain others by using their language, terms and so on..

    That said, as a reader.. perhaps truthout has value… taken with NaCl*, of course.

    * could have those others grappling with science… eh.

  6. The Baron 6

    I disagree with the quotation included at the bottom – “…and a failure of democracy”. A bit too sensationalist for me…

    The common man has evidently not yet been convinced that the cost of change outweights the benefits of change, and hasn’t been prepared to support such policies and parties. That isn’t a failure – hell, its a FEATURE of democracy.

    Nats and ACT would be more strident in this regard if more New Zealanders were prepared to meet the costs of change via higher taxes and higher costs. But time and time again, the majority of New Zealand has said no.

    I can’t see a way around that that is democratic – apart from a long term campaign of raising awareness and convincing people that it is necessary. It is one thing for everyone here to “see the light” – how do you get everyone else on board?

    • ripp0 6.1

      how interesting that one man’s (presumed) failure is another man’s FEATURE

      oyez: and mightn’t we be a tad more charitable in recognising that were not simply referring to enzed in their piece. IMO if they were then our blogger would have been entirely correct in describing that linked material as fascinating

    • r0b 6.2

      I disagree with the quotation included at the bottom – ” and a failure of democracy’. A bit too sensationalist for me

      Disagree why? That seems to be exactly the point to me.

      How many examples are there of democracies making hard decisions that require painful action over say a decade, in order to avoid future disaster? Serious question, I’d be interested to ponder it. Can democracies take such action, have they in the past, or is this just the first time that the situation has arisen?

      • r0b 6.2.1

        Hmmm, I’m reminded of this book:

        A talk here, that I haven’t had time to see, could be interesting:

        • The Baron

          R0b, I heartily recommend that book – a very interesting read. And yes, plenty of parallels to this discussion.

          One of the chapters focusses on Australia in particular as a contemporary society that is managing their resources in a particularly disasterous manner, especially their water.

          Very sobering…

          • Kevyn Miller

            “How many examples are there of democracies making hard decisions that require painful action over say a decade, in order to avoid future disaster? Serious question, I’d be interested to ponder it. Can democracies take such action, have they in the past, or is this just the first time that the situation has arisen?”

            The purpose of democracy has become to prevent revolutionary or radical changes. The same thing happened with communism…and with corporate capitalism. We might actually be better off with a global monarchy provided the monarch is an environmental activist. I believe Monaco, Britain and several Scandinavian countries have suitably qualified candidates. A joust should sort who’s best fit for the job.

      • The Baron 6.2.2

        Very good points. And yes, interesting to ponder.

        The only example that springs to mind, and it is not a positive one, is the rallying of a war mentality, particularly in WW2. Not that that idea is an original thought I think… didn’t it come out of Al Gore’s movie?

        Democracies don’t tend to move until their are crises… how can you get a faster decision without throwing democracy out the window? And what of the consequences of that?

        Oh my oh my.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.3

        IMO, the big problem with democracy is that everyone needs to have access to, actually read, and understand the issues. If this was true then democracies would be able to make the hard decisions as everyone would vote for the correct action. It’s not true though and the majority of people, who haven’t taken the time to learn the issues never mind actually understanding them, manage to let themselves be led around by their nose and/or their back pocket (this is how NACT just got voted in).

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