Winning the 'Climate Change' conversation

Winning the 'Climate Change' conversation
Posted on September 1, 2013 | Rolly Montpellier | Written on September 1, 2013
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Letter type:
Op-Ed

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

This OpEd is from the latest edition of BoomerWarrior.com.

As a Climate Leader (Climate Leadership Corps) I’m using resources made available to me to disseminate the message about climate change. The following includes text from a Climate Reality Project email and excerpts from a Washington Post article featuring Al Gore.
 
Al Gore, Climate Reality Project
 
In a recent interview with popular Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, Al Gore says he’s more optimistic than ever that the issue of climate change has reached “a tipping point”. We continue to face many challenges and we still have a long road ahead of us to solve climate change once and for all. But together we’re making real progress, and the tide is starting to turn in our favor, both culturally and politically. And that’s reason to be hopeful. Read the excerpts.
 
A Whole Lot of Hope
 
We have already crossed the 400 parts per million mark. We crossed it earlier this year. The question now is how high it will go before we begin bending the curve. But in spite of the continued released of 90 million tons of global warming pollution every day into the atmosphere, as if it’s an open sewer, we are now seeing the approach of a global political tipping point. The appearance of more extreme and more frequent weather events has had a very profound impact on public opinion in countries throughout the world.
 
A second factor is the sharp and unexpectedly steep decrease in prices for electricity produced from wind and solar and the demand destruction for fossil fuel energy from new efficiency improvements….we’ve crossed that threshold and in the next few years we’re going to see that crossed in nations and regions containing most of the world’s population.
 
We are seeing dramatic progress towards new policies in China, Korea, Ireland. We’ve seen a coal tax in India. We’ve seen changes in Australia, the largest coal producing nation. We’ve seen Mexico take a leadership position. We’ve seen action in California and other states. And some 17 other countries are in various stages of adopting either a cap and trade or carbon tax or both.
 
It’s not unusual to find big political shifts that take place beneath the surface before they’re visible above the surface. A lot of Republicans have shared with me privately their growing discomfort with the statements of some of the deniers in their ranks…  you see it at the local level a bit more than at the national level. You see these state initiatives and laws. And you see maybe the biggest shift of all in the business community.
Once questions are resolved into a choice between right and wrong, then the laws change. It happened with civil rights. It’s happening now with gay rights. It happened with apartheid and, in an earlier era, with abolition. And this is now being resolved into a question of right and wrong.
 
Reality has a way of asserting itself
 
There has been a 100-fold increase in the number of extreme, high-temperature events around the world in the distribution curve. And people have noticed for themselves — the rain storms are bigger, the droughts are deeper and the fires are more destructive. All of these things have not escaped notice and people are connecting the dots.
 
The cumulative amount of energy trapped by man-made global warming pollution each day in the earth’s atmosphere is now equal to the energy that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima bombs going off every 24 hours. It’s a big planet, but that’s a lot of energy.

The consequences are now hard to escape. Every night on the news, it’s like a nature hike through the book of revelations. Eleven states today are fighting 35 major fires! People are noticing this. And simultaneously they’re noticing the sharp drop in the cost of carbon-free, greenhouse gas-free energy, and the combination is pushing us over this political tipping point and the trend is unstoppable.
 
Winning the Conversation
 
The deniers are being hit politically. They’re being subjected to ridicule, which stings. The polling is going back up in favor of doing something on this issue. The ability of the raging deniers to stop progress is waning every single day.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re still increasing emissions. But we’re approaching this tipping point. Businesses are driving it. Grass roots are driving it. Policies and changes in law in places like India, China, Mexico, California and Ireland will proliferate and increase, and soon we’ll get to the point where national laws will evolve into global cooperation.
 
R. Montpellier, Editor
BoomerWarrior.com

About The Author

Rolly Montpellier is a Climate Leader (Certified by the Climate Reality Project) a blogger, writer, activist and the founder of BoomerWarrior.Org.

BoomerWarrior is for the socially aware and politically... More

Comments

Robert Lyman

While I admire Mr. Montpellier for having a lot of hope, I worry about it when the effect is to encourage people to adopt truly unwise measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Let us, as they say, consider the facts. In 1992, there was an international agreement among developed countries on a voluntary target of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2005. It failed. In the true spirit of vacuous optimism, in 1997 about 150 countries committed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels by the 2010 to 2012 period. It failed miserably. Since the 1990’s, eighteen Conferences of the Parties have been held in efforts to broker a deal. These negotiations have floundered on the unwillingness of less developed countries to commit to emission-reduction targets that will harm their economic growth, on the increasing efforts of those countries to wring from developed countries huge financial commitments, and on the refusal of the developed countries to give in to this type of blackmail.

At the U.N. climate talks in Doha in December 2012, countries failed to agree again. The conference collapsed in frustration and chaos. Recently, most countries have acknowledged that no new climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and even if it were negotiated by then, it probably would not come into force until 2020. This assumes that agreement can be reached at all.

So what is the future world emission outlook? The most recent expert forecast is that of the United States Energy Information Administration, which released its International Energy Outlook in July, 2013. This report addresses only the emissions from energy consumption, not other sources. According to the base case forecast, world energy consumption will grow from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2010 to 820 Btu in 2040, or 56%. Fossil fuels, which for many decades have dominated world energy consumption, will continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Coal is the fastest growing source of emissions; annual coal-related emissions are forecast to grow from14 billion metric tons in 2010 to over 20 billion metric tons by 2040. Virtually all of the growth in GHG emissions is projected to occur in the non-OECD area, and mainly in non-OECD Asia. In other words, the less developed countries will grow in income and will consume more energy and have higher emissions as they do so.

So, it appears that there are essentially unresolvable political differences blocking any international agreement. This matters little in the OECD countries like Canada which have already slowed emissions growth significantly. The growth of emissions in the non-OECD will be large and driven by the people’s desire for better incomes and higher living standards.

Given these facts, why should Canadians accept the need for more costly measures here to reduce emissions? Why are advocates of ever more climate change measures optimisti

If you believe climate change is happening now, then you understand that we're talking about the future of the planet and humankind's place on it. This is no small issue. Its about life as we know it.

Why are climate change realists optimistic? We're optimistic because not to be means giving in to the inevitability of humanity's self-destruction. That's not something I personally want to ever acknowledge, nor something I would ever give up fighting because my reality requires that I live on planet earth. Simply put, we love this planet and we want to keep living on it. Planet earth is our home and we have no where else to go.

When viewed through this lens, the small inconveniences of temporary higher prices for fossil fuels is insignificant. As is the past failures of world leaders to get their act together.

Of course if you don't believe that climate change is taking place nor that its rapid speed of progression is a direct result of human behavior, then I can see why a few cents here and there might be cause for concern.

Humanity has a very fragile existence in this universe. If having to live in harmony with nature is one of the per-requisites of ensuring our continued existence on this planet, then I am prepared to make the sacrifice. Its really not much to ask, and in the end, it will make a world of difference!

This is why we are asking ALL people around the world, to curb their consumption of energy sources that cause climate change, no matter where they live. We're in this together. Its in everyone's interest to work together.

While I admire Mr. Montpellier for having a lot of hope, I worry about it when the effect is to encourage people to adopt truly unwise measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Let us, as they say, consider the facts. In 1992, there was an international agreement among developed countries on a voluntary target of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2005. It failed. In the true spirit of vacuous optimism, in 1997 about 150 countries committed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels by the 2010 to 2012 period. It failed miserably. Since the 1990’s, eighteen Conferences of the Parties have been held in efforts to broker a deal. These negotiations have floundered on the unwillingness of less developed countries to commit to emission-reduction targets that will harm their economic growth, on the increasing efforts of those countries to wring from developed countries huge financial commitments, and on the refusal of the developed countries to give in to this type of blackmail.

At the U.N. climate talks in Doha in December 2012, countries failed to agree again. The conference collapsed in frustration and chaos. Recently, most countries have acknowledged that no new climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and even if it were negotiated by then, it probably would not come into force until 2020. This assumes that agreement can be reached at all.

So what is the future world emission outlook? The most recent expert forecast is that of the United States Energy Information Administration, which released its International Energy Outlook in July, 2013. This report addresses only the emissions from energy consumption, not other sources. According to the base case forecast, world energy consumption will grow from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2010 to 820 Btu in 2040, or 56%. Fossil fuels, which for many decades have dominated world energy consumption, will continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Coal is the fastest growing source of emissions; annual coal-related emissions are forecast to grow from14 billion metric tons in 2010 to over 20 billion metric tons by 2040. Virtually all of the growth in GHG emissions is projected to occur in the non-OECD area, and mainly in non-OECD Asia. In other words, the less developed countries will grow in income and will consume more energy and have higher emissions as they do so.

So, it appears that there are essentially unresolvable political differences blocking any international agreement. This matters little in the OECD countries like Canada which have already slowed emissions growth significantly. The growth of emissions in the non-OECD will be large and driven by the people’s desire for better incomes and higher living standards.

Given these facts, why should Canadians accept the need for more costly measures here to reduce emissions? Why are advocates of ever more climate change measures optimistic?

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