CLIMATE CHANGE is staring us in the face. The science is clear, and the need to reduce planet-warming emissions has grown urgent. So why, collectively, are we doing so little about it?
Yes, there are political and economic barriers, as well as some strong ideological opposition, to going green. But researchers in the burgeoning field of climate psychology have identified another obstacle, one rooted in the very ways our brains work. ...
We have trouble imagining a future drastically different from the present. We block out complex problems that lack simple solutions.
... energy monitors that displayed consumption levels in real-time cut energy use by an average of 7 percent, according to a study in the journal Energy in 2010. Telling heavy energy users how much less power their neighbors consumed prompted them to cut their own use, according to a 2007 study in Psychological Science. And trading on our innate laziness, default settings have also conserved resources: when Rutgers University changed its printers’ settings to double-sided, it saved more than seven million sheets of paper in one semester in 2007.
This week’s earth summit in Rio de Janeiro is a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago. By now, the leaders who gathered in the same city in 1992 told us, the world’s environmental problems were to have been solved. But all they have generated is more meetings, which will continue until the delegates, surrounded by rising waters, have eaten the last rare dove, exquisitely presented with an olive leaf roulade. The biosphere, that world leaders promised to protect, is in a far worse state than it was 20 years ago(1). Is it not time to recognise that they have failed?
These summits have failed for the same reason that the banks have failed. Political systems which were supposed to represent everyone now return governments of millionaires, financed by and acting on behalf of billionaires. The past 20 years have been a billionaires’ banquet. At the behest of corporations and the ultra-rich, governments have removed the constraining decencies – the laws and regulations – which prevent one person from destroying another. To expect governments funded and appointed by this class to protect the biosphere and defend the poor is like expecting a lion to live on gazpacho.
Greenpeace shows the true face of the problem in "The Weather Gods", a hard-hitting documentary that tells the story of the people in the front line of climate change; rural communities in Mali and Kenya and South Africa.
Almost none of the stuff on the radar of the silicon valley echo-chamber is innovative or solves any real human needs. They won't cure anyone of disease, feed a child, improve the environment, or radically improve manufacturing...
"Currently, the Ocean is in a critical state of health. If it continues to decline, it will reach a point where it can no longer function effectively and our planet will be unable to sustain the ecosystems that support humankind."
Global Dashboard explores global risks and international affairs, bringing together authors who work on foreign policy in think tanks, government, academia and the media. It was set up in 2007 and is edited from the UK by Alex Evans and David Steven.
In last week’s New Yorker, Adam Gopnik laments the epidemic of imprisonment in America, especially of the young and visible minorities, and explores what leads a society to give up on, incarcerate and hence enslave so many in brutal, soul-destroying institutions.
Gopnik is saying, in effect, that complex ‘problems’ like crime, poverty, climate change, peak oil, corruption, pandemics, and unsustainable growth economies, are not ‘problems’ that can be ‘solved’ at all, but rather, as philosopher Abraham Kaplan explained, predicaments that must be “chipped away at” and adapted to.
“The intercession of a thousand small sanities”, as Gopnik so elegantly puts it, will never be a popular approach to coping with complex predicaments, especially as they grow, through the indifference and incompetence of leaders and vested interests and the sheer size and scale of the systems creating them, into crises and then into chaos and collapse.
2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, by Jorgen Randers, launched by the Club of Rome on May 7, raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism.
In the Report author Jorgen Randers raises essential questions:
How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline? Using painstaking research, and drawing on contributions from more than 30 thinkers in the field, he concludes that:
While the process of adapting humanity to the planet’s limitations has started, the human response could be too slow.
The current dominant global economies, particularly the United States, will stagnate. Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and ten leading emerging economies (referred to as ‘BRISE’ in the Report) will progress.
But there will still be 3 billion poor in 2052.
China will be a success story, because of its ability to act.
Global population will peak in 2042, because of falling fertility in urban areas Global GDP will grow much slower than expected, because of slower productivity growth in mature economies.
CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to grow and cause +2°C in 2052; temperatures will reach +2.8°C in 2080, which may well trigger self-reinforcing climate change.
The Report says the main cause of future problems is the excessively short-term predominant political and economic model. “We need a system of governance that takes a more long-term view”, said Professor Randers, speaking in Rotterdam. “It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate friendly solutions, and must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind”.
As a species we are stumbling blindly due to a model of separation based on nationality with no coherent system of monitoring or design. We are engaged in economic and political power-play, a fight for unsustainable resources, a religious war rearing its head between Islam and Christianity and to top it all off have done more damage to the biosphere in the last 10 years than in the whole history of humanity. We are waging wars on the trivial and sometimes I wonder if it is a self protection mechanism to prevent us from seeing the truth that is staring us right in the face at this moment of human history.
The facts are clear, we as a species have created a situation where we have to stop, stop to think, stop to address the major issues that can and are potentially affecting us as a species. This is a very small planet indeed, we as individuals tent to look at it from our personal perspective that stretch about as far as we can see, and for the ones being a little more engaged as far as our national interest lies. This small perspective of a “large planet” can and might be the undoing of a sustainable abundant planet for our future generation.
"The end game is about to begin. On the one hand you have the noise and rhetoric. Greedy speculators gouging gasoline prices; mad mullahs preparing to wipe Israel off the map; bunker buster bombs and fleets being positioned; huge demand for oil from the BRIC countries; China's insatiable thirst for oil; the oil price will head for $200 a barrel and will never again fall below $130 ...
"Often in our consumer state of mind, we neglect to consider what waste goes into creating the products we consume, and then throw away. In recent years, through recycling, composting, and conservation initiatives, we have done a good job of considering the post-consumer side, but not the pre-consumer side of waste. What goes into our products is often more harmful than what happens to them post-use. We waste so many resources (both environmental and human) in the production process. Many of the issues we know about. However, when the product is ready for our consumption, we often become blind to its production."
"Computing and mathematics legend Stephen Wolfram is worried about bigger problems than climate change or overpopulation. He just joined the Lifeboat Foundation, a think tank devoted to ways of protecting humanity from deadly nanoweapons and rogue artificial intelligences."
"The only way to manage an economy as complex as this is to allow massively parallel decision making. A huge number of economically empowered people making small decisions, that in aggregate, are able to process more data, get better data (by being closer to the problem), and apply more brainpower to weighing alternatives than any centralized decision making group."