Saturday, May 14, 2011

Climate Change: Hard Sell...

The girls made me a chocolate chip cookie, complete with strawberry/cookie dough eyes and ears.

Been walking the dogs the past couple of days. Thinking about my reading. Within the last few weeks I've read Mark Hertsgaard's book: Hot and Paul Gilding's book: The Great Disruption. I've been boning up on climate change mainly because of the backlash against it by the Republican Party.

Paul Gilding is a former Greenpeace International President turned business consultant and now professor. Essentially, his story is one of an activist who got tired of sleeping on people's couches---who found a way to make a living being a "green" consultant. He is a bit maligned in Radical Enviro circles because of his jump from Greenpeace to Du Pont. Enviros have revolving doors too.

Hertsgaard is a veteran journalist whose best book is on the Beatles. In "Hot" he takes the family angle: wondering what the world will be like for his young daughter in the year 2060?

The problem with climate change is that it is so nebulous that denial is easy. How can one get upset about sea level rise, when thus far, it has only been 2 to 3 millimeters a year? So far, we haven't paid the price of a warming climate in North America, hence, it isn't a problem. People like Gilding, Hertsgaard and McKibben are seen as Chicken Little.

Gilding's answer is that the world will move on the issue when the first major catastrophe happens. This will be more than likely an extended drought in America's bread basket. He predicts this will happen in the next ten years. He expects that a billion people will die. Cheerful.

As I write this, the Mississippi is in flood. New Orleans is threatened again. The weather is cold; we might have snow tonight. Unheard of. A swarm of F4 and F5 tornadoes ravaged the south in April while Texas is in extreme drought and had record setting fires. The bark beetle has taken out millions of acres of coniferous forest in the west.

But Gilding is right: it doesn't look like we will summon the political will to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere until the first major calamity happens. All the rallies and educational projects mean nothing until we are affected directly. That means food supply. Seeing as climate change is projected to mostly impact agriculture and forestry--that might happen sooner rather than later.

The reality is that climate change will not be seen as a problem until it is a problem. Until then, expect more of an anti-enviro backlash from those who believe that the engine of growth and the carbon economy bring the greatest amount of prosperity.

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