Saturday, July 10, 2010

Addressing climate change is (not) fun

What is the best way to motivate people? Should we be offered carrots or sticks? Should the benefits of a low carbon society be emphasised or the dangers of climate change highlighted? Should the focus be on the benefits and costs to me, or to those who will feel them first and hardest? Or should responsible action be put forward simply because it is the right thing to do (as this video does so humourously)?
H/T Dave Taylor.


David Palmer said...

Well, I was happy with the bulldog part being a bulldog (AFL variety) supporter, but Byron this was incredibly naive. As if fixing climate change was as simple as he suggests, something to be addressed in our own backyards. Give us a break!

I might just believe a little more that we should all get in and do our bit but for the fact that people like Al Gore live very affluent lifestyle but hypocritically assuage their consciences by getting offsets from poor developing countries countries, the green lobby pretends you can shut down coal fired power stations and replace them with windfarms, that somehow China/India will fall into line and leave their people in poverty, that Rudd can jet off with 100 plus staff to Copenhagen, plus telling porkies that setting targets of 20% greenhouse emissions by 2020 and 50-80% emissions are feasible no way, get real. The whole thing lacks honesty, integrity, credibility.

Having said all that I’m in favour of a (small) carbon tax with that tax committed 100% to working out, developing new technologies, including nuclear to step up to the mark as the fossil fuels start running out later this century.

byron smith said...

David - I hope you noticed that this was filed under "fun" and that the video had one or two jokes in it! Despite this, when does he claim that climate change is "something to be addressed in our own backyards"? In fact, he includes international co-operation as one of the many things required.

In any case, I thought that you would have been a fan of the main message: that responding to climate change isn't all rosy and easy, nor were the inventors of industrial technologies evil schemers out to destroy the world.

Your Al Gore line is both irrelevant and saddening. Have you really bought into that meme? So I suppose you'll never go to the doctor again because a health spokesperson was photographed smoking?

I've critiqued offsets a number of times before and agree that they currently have way too large a role in many (rich) people's thinking about carbon reduction.

China is now the world's leader in solar and wind technology and deployment. I'm not saying that they are not also a problem and being obstructionist in various ways, nor that there are simple geopolitical solutions. As I've said a number of times, I don't believe that there are "solutions" to our predicament. But a low level carbon tax aiming at a decarbonisation "later this century" is too little way too late to be a serious response to our situation.

telling porkies that setting targets of 20% greenhouse emissions by 2020 and 50-80% emissions are feasible no way, get real.
The paltry Australian targets that were under discussion are entirely feasible at technological and economic levels. Just as eliminating slavery was entirely feasible at technological and economic levels in the early modern period, or significantly reducing "stupid poverty" is also entirely feasible today, or reversing global deforestation, or making significant reductions in the number of abortions in Australia. All these issues are eminently achievable except for political will. And the fact that there have in the past been significant changes in social expectations on a relatively short time frame says that seeing such shifts happen again is not impossible either. Yes, this is quite different from "solving climate change", but it is still a reasonable thing to discuss and aim for. Simply saying that it is too hard means accepting that the world's poor will face the earlier and the worse effects of climate change without help or mitigation of the damage.

byron smith said...

Climate change is the biggest restriction on Chinese development.

byron smith said...

And China is leading the way on clean energy technology.