Thursday, November 26, 2015

Let's play "climate change whiplash"!

Only In It For The Gold: Have We Missed the 2C Target Already?

As I have noted before, there's a real "whiplash" problem going on in the lead up to Paris, with some apparent experts pointing out things like how much could be achieved in CO2 reductions even with current technology; how coal may have already peaked in China; how batteries could revolutionise the use of clean energy, etc.

On the other hand, you have posts like the one linked above complaining that by pretending that the 2C limit is achievable when it most likely isn't, scientists are giving false optimism to nations, which leads to them not committing to the degree of effort that really would be needed. 

On the third hand, surely it has to be realised that the long standing enemies of effective policy towards reducing CO2 (the small government/anti regulation/anti tax conservative/libertarians of America) can seize on discussion that 2C is effectively inachievable to argue that there is no point in seeking to limit CO2, and promote instead a foolhardy "aircondition the planet" strategy (that is, the idea to push economic growth as the priority, including by burning more fossil fuels, because it is only by getting richer that the planet can be airconditioned - or geoengineered - fast enough to survive any temperature rise.)

It is a very tricky business, but I would have thought the appropriate response just has to include the following:

a. likely overshooting of 2C doesn't mean you don't seek to limit it as low as possible above 2C;

b. no one has any clear idea how well geoengineering may work and how it may hurt some countries for the benefit of others.  It will only be worth trying once things really are dire, and cannot address ocean acidification in any realistic scenario;

c. don't let pessimism become self fulfilling defeatism.   When strong commitment to environmental action is made, the results are often faster and better than expected. 

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