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View Diary: Global Warming - Creating the Conditions for a Cronkite Moment (183 comments)

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  •  and you probabnly don't have to change (0+ / 0-)

    I was thinking of course (you've made me think about climate change more than Bill McKibben!  Take a bow!) and from the sounds of it, your lifestle might not change much at all.  If you meet your other goals, particularly about air quality, by conversion from fossil fuels both for utility generation and what car/transportation/trucking needs you have, then I'm going to bet you'll have done most of what needs to happen to deal with carbon change.  

    If you like, you might sneak over to grist.org, because they keep track of a lot of technological advances and changing economics.  For example, solar has come down in price so much, it is starting to displace coal because it is cheaper.  Building wind has also done its share (see Muskegon Critic's diaries)

    I might even adopt a slogan for this effort:  "We're closer than you think"  

    anyway, thanks again!

    •  And I would again emphasize that if (0+ / 0-)

      solar is cheaper, then great, why not? And if there are things that we should do anyways, climate change or not, then great, let's do them. But you and I both know that the stakes are not ultimately about taking the bus to work, or installing a solar panel. If humanity is to reduce carbon emissions to a level that would stabilize atmospheric CO2 at 350 ppm, there is going to be real pain. People who are now on the margins of the energy economy will suffer and die. I know that you don't want to admit that, but the fact is that people already suffer because the price of energy is higher than they can afford, whether it's to be able to get transportation to work, or fertilize and cultivate their crops, or enable their children to study at night. And even here in the "first world" there are millions who are affected on a daily basis negatively by the price of energy. And there is no way to get to 350 ppm without increasing the price of energy, and every increase in the price of energy is going to mean that that many more people on the margins will suffer. Even a .01% increase, will mean a .01% increase in the suffering.

      •  I don't want to admit that (0+ / 0-)

        because there's not really any evidence to support the notion that people will suffer and die.

        You have perhaps heard of LIHEAP, food stamps, and medicaid?  As a society, we have it entirely in our power to shield the most vulnerable.  The fact that we tend not to is not an argument that we can't.  This is a non starter and a fallacy.

        Yes, the price of energy will increase for a time (after which it is likely to fall, because after all, there are no feedstocks to pay for with wind or solar once instaleld, which means that installing a lot of renewables is terrible news for the fossil fuel industry because once the investment is made, they won't be able to compete)

        So, yes, as a start we should do renewables if they are cheaper.  Of course, the only way that will happen is if we stop subsidizing dirty fuels out the wazoo.  Make coal companies pay the health care costs where they pollute and fully clean up.  Ditto for oil companies.  Put that carbon tax on.  I'm sure that if we stop letting polluters have a free ride, things will change pretty quickly.  As it is, we are just siphoning wealth from average people and funnelling it to giant corporations with our current policies.

        •  You are seriously on crack if you believe that (0+ / 0-)

          low-income people all over the world will be fully compensated for any increase in energy prices related to efforts to reduce GHG emissions. If you gave every poor person on Earth $200 a year, you're talking about $1 trillion annually. Do you really think that's going to happen? Countries that are themselves deeply in debt and staving off bankruptcy are going to donate $1 trillion a year to make sure that poor people don't suffer the impacts of higher energy prices.

          I also challenge you to consider whether you really believe that alternative energy is going to be cheaper than carbon-based fuels in any forseeable timeframe. You do realize that investors have no problem investing in ideas with long time frames. They write 30 year mortgages on houses millions of times a year. They invest in oil pipelines that will take decades to come to fruition, real estate developments, etc. If alternative energy was such a great investment on its own merits, there'd be no need for us to be having this debate about public policy. It would happen on its own.

          One thing that we can absolutely agree upon however is that there shouldn't be subsidies for carbon-based fuels. Why hasn't the global warming movement started with that, with calling for all governments to stop any form of subsidy to carbon-based fuel industry? That would seem to be something that the left and right could agree upon.

          •  poor people worldwide aren't the issue (0+ / 0-)

            it's poor people in the rich world only.  That's where the emissions are. And let's not forget, except for the US, these countries have a strong tradition of doing this.

            Yes, I do believe it.  After all, we're early on and if early adopters pay only $200 a year, unless the current decline in solar panel prices stops (which the rate of new discoveries suggests will continue).  In fact, there's a lot of investment going in here.  Europe's already seen it, and now the US (especially California) is seeing a lot of money pouring in.

            that said, the global warming movement has targetted oil subsidies, and the ending of oil subsidies was brought up in Congress, Republicans voted it down unanimously, I believe.  

            But, so long as there's a consensus that carbon is no big deal in the US, then nothign will happen.  Sad, but true.

            •  I don't remember that vote (0+ / 0-)

              The Dem's had the House for four years though, so they could've passed something along those lines.

              And, why are you saying that poor people outside of the first world aren't at issue? Isn't the major issue in climate change talks whether or not China and India and other developing countries will sign on to CO2 limits? Isn't that the reason cited by Canada in dropping out, that unless you get those kinds of countries to also sign on, it will all be for naught?

              And it's not like as things now stand, everyone in even the U.S. for example is being fully compensated. Plenty of poor people live in places where the only way to find work is to drive. Are they being reimbursed for higher gas prices? Would they be under cap and trade?

              •  so the argument is (0+ / 0-)

                that because we can't take measures to make sure every poor person is compensated, we should just wreck the planet?  The impacts on the world's poor from climate change are going to be one heck of  alot worse.

                The problme is the disastrous socio economic organization we have

                (and the democrats had the house, but not the 60 votes in the senate)

                •  Nice of you to sacrifice the lives of today's (0+ / 0-)

                  poor in favor of poor people decades from now who will theoretically receive the benefits. I wonder how they would feel about that . . .  

                  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

                    this is an empirical difference.  
                    1) I have seen no analyses suggesting that this would be some back breaking impact that could not be mitigated,
                    2) in fact I have seen a fair number suggesting that it might well improve the plight of the poor (whow disproportinately suffer the impacts of localized pollution)

                    3) I think all analyses suggest that the impacts of climate change will be faced most by the poor (see for example the demands of African countries for action at Durban
                    4) and the poor people decades from now would be wiped out.
                    5) All analyses that I have seen are clear that the costs of avoidance are substnatially less than the costs of adaptation or damges from climate change.  Even if it's 30% likely, the bet is that avoidance is cheaper.

                     I suppose we can argue that we owe nothing whatsoever to future generations.  I do not hold this view.

                    •  I think you have to consider the reality (0+ / 0-)

                      that billions of people already live on the margins, barely surviving, often not. People live without reliable electricity, heat, a/c, sufficient food, transportation, etc., and all of these things are at least in part dependent on affordable energy. If you make energy more expensive, all of those things will also become more expensive, and less available. That is an impact on poor (and middle class) people that is not likely to be fully mitigated.

                      Fighting localized pollution can be in conflict with cutting greenhouse gases. I've worked a lot for example on cleaning up diesel pollution at the Ports of LA and Long Beach. Our best solution would be some sort of electrified cargo mover. That would clean up pollution at the source, but it would also require massive amounts of electricity, much of it provided by coal fired power plants in the Mojave Desert. Personally, I don't give a shit if we burn coal in the desert if it means that poor people in Long Beach and East Los Angeles can breath cleaner air. Others may differ.

                      Again, any analysis that says that poor people today should suffer a little bit more in order that poor people in the future will suffer much less is asking today's poor people to sacrifice in favor of some nondescript group of "poor people" living at some point in the future, who if today's poor people have anything to say about it, will NOT be the descendants of today's poor people. I don't think very many of them will voluntarily take that deal. Their "representatives" at climate change talks are people who are personally not going to suffer either way, and if the talks are successful, they will personally be the beneficiaries of the funds that are going to those countries supposedly to mitigate the suffering of the people there. That you have to know is a very old story throughout the world.

                      "The poor people" in the future are not going to be wiped out. Again, if there are poor people in the future who will be wiped out, they won't be the same ones now making the sacrifice, but more importantly, I plain don't believe in those kinds of catastrophic scenarios. Human beings aren't anything if we are not adaptable, and we live in the tropics, in the arctic, in the desert, in the mountains. We developed from apes into human beings during the period in Earth's history when we went from no glaciers on Earth to an ice age, and we developed into the advanced civilizations that we have now AFTER the receding of the last glaciation 12,000 years ago. I strongly believe that we will survive and thrive in any climate scenario.

                      The analyses I've seen of the cost of avoidance versus the cost of suffering from climate change are highly speculative at best. If you want to make that argument, you need to present a real scenario where we are able to actually control global CO2 emissions. If I'm not mistaken, a lot of countries put in a lot of energy and resources to complying with Kyoto, yet emissions have risen apace nonetheless. I think Canada said when they walked out of COP17 that there was no point in it if every country wasn't going to have emissions reductions requirements, and China and India are not going to subject themselves to that. So in the end we end up paying the "cost" but we will still suffer from whatever effects are coming.

                      I'm not sure what we particularly owe to future generations, but I would think a free and prosperous economy that can provide for their needs and comforts would be the most important thing I'd like my soon-to-be born son to be able to enjoy when he becomes an adult.

                  •  And one more thing (0+ / 0-)

                    If you are in SF join up with the SF kossacks if you aren't already or pm me.   I'm buying!

                    •  I dunno if I qualify . . . (0+ / 0-)

                      I live in LA, but I find myself SF quite a bit because most of my family and friends are there, having grown up and lived there for many years. Maybe I can be an honorary SF Kossack!

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