Climate Change – the HOT topic

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So far 21 UN (IPCC) meetings on climate change have taken place, including the latest one in Lima.

With richer developed nations wanting everybody to contribute to carbon emission reduction, the poorer developing countries are asking for richer nations to help them financially, especially given that most carbon emissions have come from the richer nations.

These divisions have led to a ‘bare minimum’ deal and left many things unresolved. Mr Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, acknowledged that even if detailed pledges are going to be made next year in Paris, they would fall well short of the level necessary to avoid ‘dangerous climate change’ (that the global temperature must not rise more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels).

So, have all these talks made any real difference?

It seems little progress has been made to getting a robust agreement amongst nations to reduce the carbon emissions enough. Many times politics has gotten in the way. While all these talks on climate change are going on, (Lima talks themselves having contributed with the largest ever carbon footprint that any UN climate meeting has ever left behind), in the meantime the world as we know it is changing.

Let’s be real, the uncertainties are not about whether it exists at all or whether it is human made, as many sceptics would argue. See for example this video by Lenar Whitney, an American politician and business woman who argues that human-caused climate change is “the greatest deception in the history of mankind”, dismissing evidence from Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (I am sure many of you will find her assertions simply ridiculous and uninformed). The real uncertainties lie around the impact of climate change. Since it all lies in the future, climate change sceptics are able to feed on this uncertainty. As a matter of fact, these uncertainties could go both ways. The risks could be less but they could also be much greater and more dangerous than we anticipate. Take for example Typhoon Hayan going through the Phillipines or Cyclone Hudhud going through India…and now imagine these storms being twice or three times as intense!

Climate change is also dangerous because it intersects with many other global problems of the 21st century BUT unlike like global poverty, which we can change, climate change is irreversible. There will be no way to get the greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere quick enough once they are there.

So why is society so passive? Shown in recent surveys,  public opinion has become more indifferent to climate change. Maybe climate change sceptics are influential…but surely they aren’t THAT influential? As per Prof. Anthony Giddens, climate change is filtered through the findings of science where we have to get our assessment of risks from and rely solely on scientists, which is unusual. Their work is largely inaccessible to the majority of people around the globe and it is almost impossible for normal person to master the science of climate change, making it very easy for sceptics to operate.

However he also speaks of something much more prominent, he calls it the Giddens’ Paradox. He talks about the fact that climate change as a humanly induced issue is unique to our civilisation. No other civilisation has ever intervened in nature to the degree we do on an everyday basis and therefore there are no historical records or data we can draw upon to mobilise the public against it. The consequences of climate change are not fully here yet…they are to come. They are FUTURE risks and therefore it is hard for people to grasp and see the reality of them. There has to be more than just one disastrous event in order to prove that this is linked to climate change. So, as a society we will likely wait until something cataclysmic happens, that can be linked unequivocally to climate change, before we act. But then it will be too late!

We haven’t got very far to date in resolving climate change because we are not addressing the risks appropriately. Realistically, if we are going to resolve this we need a change of paradigm…not just leave it to the UN. The US and China contribute 40% of greenhouse gases in the world, with India not far behind. If we cannot get these countries to agree, then anything that the UN does is doomed and scarily there would be nothing the rest of the world could do that is enough to avoid dangerous climate change.

Carbon graphic

We need to uproot the way we are currently going about life. Naomi Klein speaks about “the war our economic model is waging against life on earth” in her book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. She says, “The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically betterwe have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. We have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels, when in fact we know exactly how to do it—it just requires breaking every rule in the ‘free-market’ playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, and reclaiming our democracies”.

What do you think? Is getting away from capitalism altogether the real answer to climate change or can we change capitalism in a way that it is controlled and doesn’t contribute to climate change at dangerous levels? Leave your comments below and let us know your thoughts. Thanks!

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3 Responses to “Climate Change – the HOT topic”

  1. Beqir Says:

    If we agree that greed is part of us humans, than Capitalism is the best tool to preserve and expand it further.

    As we know the capitalist neoliberal state by its definition acts mostly for and on behalf of the few who are guardians of international capital.
    In order to maintain their wealth and increase further their profits; capitalist countries are in search of new markets for their products and also they require expansion of the workforce. That is their first and prime objective.Therefore, population growth in more ways than one is the main fuel for Capitalism.

    The problem for those who are concerned with environment is that this population expansion requires consumption of more non-renewable natural resources. There is some 7 billion of us on earth already.

    Population growth is a serious problem especially for developing countries as it undermines their efforts to improve their living standards and inflicts further strain in their commons resources.

    You ask, what do I think?

    Well, there seems no way of getting away from Capitalism, for now.

    Part of the job could be done with education and by raising awareness of the urgency of real, serious and immediate threat to our planet.

    We are witnesses in recent weeks of citizen protests and disobedience in Hong Kong and USA.

    Perhaps best part of the job could be done by those means.

  2. victoriaevbuomwan Says:

    Is there truly a way of getting out of this Capitalism? In my view, this should be seen as a clash between the planet and capitalism, as Klein describes it, “the climate crisis as a confrontation between capitalism and the planet”. the over expanding demand of mankind and a finite world. The Earth is vastly older and stronger than the human animal. Even spraying sulphuric acid into the stratosphere will not trouble the planet for long. The change that is under way is no more than the Earth returning to equilibrium – a process that will go on for centuries or millennia whatever anyone does. Rather than denying this irreversible shift, we’d be better off trying to find ways of living with it (Naomi Klein) Guardian.co.uk

  3. franzi075 Says:

    @beqirshillova Maybe it’s about getting away from capitalism as we know it today? I always think since only a small number of people hold the most amount of wealth in this world and a large amount of people only hold a very small amount of wealth then who is in the majority?
    This is very simplistic and only illustrative but let’s ask ourselves what would happen if noone went to work in the factories and became independent of money and big corporations? What would happen if we stopped buying the junk they produce? They can have all the money in the world but who holds the true power?
    It is the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be dependent on money and ‘stuff’ that has driven the us to this point…so should our aim not be to become independent of this in order to make a change?

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