From DAVID ATKINS
All of these problems have the same solution…
No need to pay attention to this. I’m sure everything will be fine.
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show.
Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the world’s economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China.
Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million, says Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That’s the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959. The measurements are taken from air samples captured away from civilization near a volcano in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
The great tragedy here is that we have three gigantic problems right now, each of them with the same simple solution. We have a climate problem, first and foremost. We have a global economic and unemployment problem, second. And we have a global terrorism (or imperialism, depending on your point of view) problem focused largely on oil producing states, third.
All of these problems have the same solution: a global effort to create jobs in renewable energy, conservation and climate adaptation technologies while transitioning away from fossil fuels.
The importance of this effort to the climate problem is obvious. The human race is quite literally going to go extinct if we don’t solve this problem by mitigating the climate crisis and bringing emissions under control. The longer it takes us to solve this problem, the more in danger we are of civilization collapse unless we figure out significant adaptation solutions. And it may well be that, dangerous as it certainly is, we may be forced to attempt geo-engineering as well.
But this is also of crucial importance to the economy. When people think of “green jobs”, they tend of think of highly trained engineers working on solar panels. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Conservation involves all sorts of projects: weather stripping and insulating homes, painting rooftops, creating bicycle lanes and railroads, enabling telecommutes, and a host of other variegated economic activity, much of which creates jobs that don’t require advanced training. Transitioning from fossil fuels also involves some massive conversion projects, including altering and retrofitting every gas station in the world and all the associated infrastructure. We’re talking about untold millions of jobs here in nearly every sector of the economy. It wouldn’t even hurt capital markets much, except insofar as it would require the taxes to pay for them. But then, with the Dow Jones and wealth inequality at record levels, it’s not as if the investment community can’t afford to pitch in a little to help.
Finally, there’s the security angle. The Right and the Left like to argue about who is to blame for the horrors in the Middle East. The Right points to Islamism and other cultural problems, not without some justification. The Left points to the long history of imperialism and war that has decimated those societies, again with no little justification.
But the biggest problem is simply oil wealth. When a country has vast quantities of the world’s most precious resource under its soil, two things happen: first, every other nation wants to control it; and second, the leaders of that nation find it easier to buy off their public with easily gotten money than to build a stable, diversified middle class with a tax base.
Political scientists know that one of the most crucial factors in creating a society built on principles of democracy and constitutional liberalism respecting human rights, is the presence of a vibrant, diversified middle class that demands a say in its own government. Although it may cause increased instability in the short term, ending both imperialism and despotism in the Middle East will require the devaluation of oil as a commodity.
All of these problems have the same solution. And yet our leaders across the globe are taking precisely the wrong measures at every turn.
Instead of focusing on renewables and conservation, we are working to extract and transport as much fossil fuel energy as quickly as possible.
Instead of embarking on a massive jobs program, we are slashing deficits and enacting austerity in order to placate bond investors who are fatter and wealthier than ever.
And instead of defusing the military security problems in the world by reducing the power of oil, we are actively and expensively making them worse.
History will not be a kind judge. But it’s important that the record show that there were voices shouting sanity from the rooftops, even if it only amounts to cries in the wilderness. It’s that or just giving up. And giving up isn’t an option.
The future of our species depends on it.