Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen’

Read all about it

Interviews! Today we’ve got a great interview with Peter Brown from The Lionel Show, which, as usual, WordPress will not let me embed directly. But fear not; just click here and it ought to either play or download, depending on how paranoid your media player settings are.

Also there’s a print interview at Investor’s Business Daily with quotes from Geoffrey Garver. Well worth reading, although quite short.

Was going to post another interview, but the interviewer was so clueless that it’s not even worth giving them the link traffic. Yes, it’s important to engage with people of all views, no matter how bizarre, but at some point it just becomes inefficient to keep pouring our energy and effort down that big ol’ hole. The scientific evidence on climate change is in. There’s as much consensus as there’s ever going to be, because the people who are still unconvinced are the people who aren’t likely to be persuaded by scientific evidence anyway. Can we just declare ourselves to have won the debate (and if there’s ever been a better definition of a Pyrrhic victory, I can’t think of it, because I’m pretty sure we’d all be delighted for the other folks to have been right, yes?) and then proceed to ignore them?

And yeah, I realize we can’t, because some of them run countries. Which is one of a number of things that keep me up at night. (Car alarms are another.)

I guess we’ll see the final shape of world opinion soon, as Copenhagen grinds onward. Keep watching the skies!

Plan C is panic…also Plans D through Z

On this week’s episode of CBC’s The Sunday Edition, among the guests was one David Keith, an advocate of geoengineering. Geoengineering, for those that don’t know, is basically the same as terraforming, except we’d do it here on Earth rather than on some alien planet. It involves making large-scale alterations to the way the planet works. So pretty much what we’ve been doing ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, then, except this time we’d be doing it on purpose. The CBC host called it “Plan B” in case our glorious leaders fail to come to a sufficiently drastic agreement in Copenhagen.

The specific technology that would be brought into play in this instance involves the spraying of sulphur compounds in the upper atmosphere to reflect a greater proportion of the sun’s radiation and thus cool the Earth. This is similar to what happens after a major volcanic eruption. In theory, it should work. It might even work in practice.

Keith is careful to say that this wouldn’t be an easy fix, and wouldn’t substitute for cutting carbon emissions; we have to cut emissions, and drastically. At best, this plan would provide us with some breathing space to allow us to minimize the damage while emissions are dropping. But I wonder how many people, upon hearing about this plan, are actually going to take that away as the message. I think it’s more likely that a lot of them will be all “oh look, technology’s going to save us, just like we thought it would, la la la we can do whatever we want.”

I’m not saying that technology isn’t going to be extremely helpful for both mitigation and adaption in the years ahead. Of course it will. Our society is too large and too complex for any kind of back-to-the-land ideology to work on a global scale. But it’s worth going back to the I=PATE formula here, and remembering that technology is only one part of the equation. Without a shift in values away from the commodification of life, all the gadgets in the world will be no better than a brief distraction from the abyss.

Oh, and to the guy who keeps writing me angry letters about “censorship”: I will let your comments through once you’ve demonstrated that you can get through three consecutive sentences without using a racial slur of some kind. Meanwhile you can peddle your garbage on your own blog, thanks.

Live from the centre of the Earth

I’m pretty sure we’re all watching the Copenhagen summit as closely as we can, so in the hope that this is useful to y’all, here’s a rundown of some official and unofficial live TV feeds from the proceedings.

World Wildlife Federation: Live broadcast every weekday at 7pm CET.

Oxfam: Daily videos. 24-hour streaming feed. Does not always come through very well though. Recorded video reports too, better quality.

Al Gore’s Lots of videos, some of them only tangentially related, but well worth sifting through.

Vimeo vlogs at random. Not live, but they might as well be, considering how fast they’re going up. Many non-English videos here.

TckTckTck: Also non-live but frequently updated. Scroll down for videos.

And so it begins…

Greenpeace Canada marked the opening of the Copenhagen talks yesterday in their usual fashion: by doing an awesome stunt and having a bunch of their members arrested for mischief.


So, the big news yesterday: Obama announces his Copenhagen plan, committing to cut America’s CO2 emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020.

(That’s 3 percent of 1990 levels, for those who are counting.)

The sad part is that this is more or less the best we could have hoped for. And I think most of us are glad that at least the US has decided to set itself firm mandatory targets, which it was never willing to do before. But, seriously…three percent? By 2020?

China’s announced its plans as well; it’s going to reduce its emissions by 40 to 45 percent per unit of GDP. Says researcher Qi Jianguo of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, “In 2020, the country’s GDP will at least double that of now, so will the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). But the required reduction of emissions intensity by 40 to 45 percent in 2020 compared with the level of 2005 means the emissions of GHG in 2020 has to be roughly the same as emissions now.” This does not strike me as grounds for optimism.

Meanwhile, the deniers continue their increasingly shrill tirades, buying radio ads here in Montreal and across the country. I’m not going to bother linking to them, as I have no interest in helping boost their search rank, but you’ve probably heard them.

The best suggestion I’ve heard on that topic comes from my friend Kielo, who wants to know why we can’t have that kind of nonsense classified as “hate speech against, y’know, the planet and stuff” and dealt with accordingly by the government. While I’m quite sure this proposal wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of, say, an actual lawyer (or probably of Ki himself if he were sober at the time), it does point up the glaring anthrocentricity (not a word out of you, Microsoft Spell Checker!) of the way we look at things.

Advocating harm to any group of people, that’s a crime. Advocating doing nothing while other species die, and pushing a lifestyle that actively implicates us all in their extermination, well…that’s free speech, it is. No, even better: that’s science.