Britain, Bush, Climate change, Environment, Monbiot, Politics, The Guardian, USA

Climate change: means and ends

George Monbiot is ugly, boring, and slightly annoying – in a word, academic; but he does his homework, providing a useful service to his readers. Today, Monbiot didn’t do his homework as well as usual: he was trying to refute the American plan to reflect sunlight back into space rather than cut emissions; but the dismissive vagueness with which he dealt with the arguments left you with a bad feeling: that environmentalists are not wanting to cut emissions as a means to the end of stopping climate change, but that they campaign on climate change as a means to the end of cutting emissions.

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10 thoughts on “Climate change: means and ends

  1. fran-tes-to says:

    maybe you’re right, maybe the environmentalists are right too (to want to cut the emissions at all)

    (the us plan sounds like science fiction, why taking the long hollywood way if there’s already an achievable one?)

  2. fran, i answered that objection in the “wolf” post linked: because the long hollywood way does not take away our freedom, as cuttin emissions would

  3. Dave On Fire says:

    The link between greenhouse emissions and climate change, and consequently the need to cut emissions, is well-estalished scientific concensus. That it is in the interest of Bush and his military-industrial cronies to hide this link and avoid this need is obvious to anyone who sees where their money comes from.
    On the other hand, what evidence have you for the “agenda” of George Monbiot and, for that matter, of most climate scientists, to cut emissions just to “take away your freedom”?

  4. hello dave

    im not denying the link between emissions and climate change: as a matter of fact, i buy that (as you can see browsing this blog).

    im also not saying that Monbiot has an agenda to take away my freedom

    im saying that today’s unconvicing refutation of the alternative way of fighting global warming, that it might be science fiction but has the clear advantage of not asking us to change our way of life, has given me a bad feeling about the motivation for cuttin emissions.

    and, you will have to admit, environmentalists were enemises of emissions much before climate change consensus was reached.

    this it not to say that i disagree with cuttin emissions, but it is to say, as the post says explicitly, that environmentalists might want to cut emissions independently of the climate change evidence

  5. Dave On Fire says:

    I also read Monbiot’s post, and I don’t see how it “says explicitly, that environmentalists might want to cut emissions independently of the climate change evidence”. Rather, he says that “Every scheme that could give us a chance of preventing runaway climate change should be considered on its merits. But the proposals for building a global parasol don’t have very many.”
    Climate change came about through us recklessly alterating the composition of the atmosphere, and it seems natural to approach plans to alter it further with extreme caution – especially when they are being advocated by a man with a proven record for recklessness and a clear profit motive to keep emissions high.

  6. oh, sorry dave, i didnt mean monbiot’s post, i meant mine. as in, i am arguing that environmentalists want to cut emissions independently of climate change. whether monbiot would agree to that i dont know – but there is at least one remark in his article (you see, i would call monbiot’s an article, and mine a post:-)) in which he says that emissions are bad anyway.

    on extreme caution, i agree. but the solar panel idea doesn’t involve that, and monbiot just dismisses it with “a century away”. which is not a good idea, because global warming deniers might just say that of climate change: “a century away”.

    finally, on bush: what you say is true. but then we cant use the argument, as monbiot does, that if even bush accepts climate change, then it must be true. if bush is an unreliable source, then he is ALWAYS an unreliable source

  7. Dave On Fire says:

    ok fair enough. Still seems like terribly dodgy grounds for saying that environmentalists see emissions reduction as an end unto itself, though.

    Also, the solar mirror does seem to be a bit of a pipe dream. Even if it were to somehow be ready within the next few decades at negligible environmental cost, it completely would neglect all the other aspects of climate change (acid rain, desertification etc).

    And finally, Monbiot doesn’t claim that “even bush accepts climate change, then it must be true.”, but that if even Bush accepts climate change then there are few people left to convince on this point.

  8. Dave, im not saying that they want to cut emissions as an end in itself. im saying that they think that emissions are bad, dangerous, unhealty, and all these things, independently of their causing global warming. and this is important: because then they would be relying on well-established evidence for global warming to defend claims that might be much less strong: say, for example, the idea that too many cars increase cases of cancer, or stuff like that.

    on the second point: isn’t desertification (i dunno about acid rains) a consequence of global warming? then the mirror would handle it…

    on the last point: i guess doing hermeneutics on what Monbiot says is a waste of time, ain’t it… i drop it

  9. Dave On Fire says:

    I see your point. Ultimately, though, aren’t they right that there is more to climate change and more to emissions than just global warming? That the atmosphere is becoming more acidic, for example, was acknowledged even before global warming was, especially in towns (like mine) with a lot of sandstone buildings.

    As to the solar shade, it clearly isn’t expected to cover the entire planet (tell me it’s not, right? ‘cos it’s sci-fi enough as it is) so even with it in place some parts of the planet will cool down and others will continue warming up. However this is implemented, then, if it does anything at all it is likely to further peturb regional weather systems, only exacerbating effects of global warming like floods and desertification. There is more to ecocide than global mean temperature.

  10. this is how i understand the “solar shade”: its a mirror that is supposed to reflect less than 1% of the sun’s light. if it did that, apparently, it would compensate for all the emissions from the industrial revolution till today… so no, its not supposed to cover the all planet, just to reflect some of the light – 1% or near that is still quite a lot, im guessin. but i dont think that the idea is that it would cover one part and not another. it would not be covering anything, just preventing the whole system from gettin warmer.

    anyway, if you want to know more about it, follow the link to the american plan on my post. there you’ll find more information and more links

    on the fact that emissions are just bad, as i said, i can also agree. but, again, the point is that they cant argue against emissions in general through global warming: those are two distinct issues… and, i guess, it does not help that the same people that were arguing for cleaner air twenty years ago are now arguing for cuttin emissions because of global warming

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