I have been following the debate from the climate denier side for a few weeks, mostly in fascination of how you can, in contrast to being a sceptic, go ahead and categorically deny the possibility that emissions into the atmosphere could create a climate system collapse. So I figured that to be a denier you must have some pretty solid science behind you. That’s fascinating. In a spooky way, as I personally am seriously worried that we have not passed a tipping point already.
Anyway, having learned to be sceptical about being sceptical, I was keeping an open mind about where my investigations could lead me. And I got more than I bargained for. That’s why we need to talk.
What follows is what I would like to say to you – if you are a denier – and if you are not, I’d like you to be in on the conversation. This is serious stuff, hard to express, and to get to the heart of the matter I might have to ramble around it. So bear with me.
To get to a stage where you deny anthropogenic climate system impacts you have to first reject the position of an established group of scientists. In fact this is nothing unusual, established groups have been wrong before. You also get into an explanation as to why so many rational men and women could get it THAT WRONG. And at the same time, explain how a number of equally rational men and women could stand up to conventional wisdom.
One explanation offered by deniers is one of money and security – follow the accepted line and you keep your job, one of the most powerful motivators around.
So let me paraphrase the way I understand deniers think – and this is one of the reasons why we need a long serious talk – I need to know if I am right.
The theory (that climate change is being accelerated by man), is being supported by a cadre of scientists who are, consciously or unconsciously, following this line because it suits their own interests and the interests of trade and industry owners who pay them. They put their own needs above the needs of the general public. This is in contrast to the few who have the moral courage to stand for their opposite position. The position – of anthropogenic global warming – is detrimental to societal development as, if followed, will result in fuel restrictions that harm economic growth.
The thing that gets me about this is that if we accept the denier’s position, then it could well be true for other areas. Why stop at climate change? I have to admit that I myself and suspicious of what we could call established economic truths. Suppose I substituted my ideas about economy in the paragraph above?
The theory (that economic growth driven by free markets will create better standards for all), is being supported by a cadre of economists who are, consciously or unconsciously, following this line because it suits their own interests and the interests of trade and industry owners who pay them. They put their own needs above the needs of the general public. This is in contrast to the few who have the moral courage to stand for their opposite position. This position of infinite economic growth is detrimental to societal development and, if followed, will result in continued ecological destruction and environmental degradation and ultimately create a humanitarian catastrophe.
So where does the discussion lead? The climate deniers I have read want us to continue to release CO2 into the atmosphere. They do, however, recognize that there is a global fuels shortage ahead, and many of them argue for nuclear power. In this case they agree with a large body of established scientists that nuclear power is safe. And they seem to agree with the established view that economic growth should prevail.
For me it doesn’t add up. How can you so categorically believe that a group is acting against your interests in one case but so altruistically for you in another?
Which brings me to why we need to talk. Look. We are all in the same boat, a planet under pressure, an economy in serious debt and no sensible way forward. A system which is slow to change, being held back by the fear of the very people who have been trained and educated and employed with public money to serve us. It is a crisis of faith in each other. We are never going to get anywhere if we let this continue.
Arguing about the science is a waste of time at this stage, as we are discussing the same outcome – restrictions on fossil fuel – which anyway are the same restrictions Peak Oil protagonists, civil liberties and alternate economists are talking of. It is small change in comparison to the crisis of faith in leaders and civil servants we are facing. This crisis is dangerous, as people could be opened even more to manipulation, looking for strong leadership and guidance.
So we need to talk, and we need to find a way forward together to a society with more people, more peace more prosperity and more equality but with less fossil fuel. Or?
I really like the carbon counter from Deutsche bank. It gives a scientific, factual approach to the unpaid for use of common resources: our climate system. You can download your own counter from their website, too.
We need more initiatives like this to present what is happening in an easy, but factual way. The bank expresses concern that the asset management they so carefully practice when it comes to their client’s property is not being practiced by governments when it comes to national assets. In fact, in an interview on their website, executives go so far as to express concern this lack of proper risk management may derail the entire economy, and their own business with it.
Hard hitting stuff from people who seem to have done their homework!
This amazing film gives remarkable insight into how plastic refuse circulates in our oceans. This plastic flotsam is a threat to our Very Beautiful Place and should give us cause to stop and think about the systemic malfunctions that allow release of such valuable materials into the biosphere.
As temporary NING-master for the Transition Sweden movement, I was invited to a pre-screening of Franny Armstrongs drama-documentary-animation hybrid ”the Age of Stupid” The film revolves around an archivist in 2055, living in a devastated world, reviewing material from 2008 and asking why people did not react sooner.
The film is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, bringing together the different media, and telling the story through the six separate documentary stories of ordinary people in different parts of the world.
The music, the artwork, the animations all meld together into a film which is obviously a labour of love for all involved.
The message I get from the film is that man-made climate warming is going on, and the signs are all around us. However, we are not doing anything about it. Relying on Peak oil to solve the problem is not good enough, the Earth can still reach a tipping point on the current emissions.
As the film progresses, we come closer to their own involvement in climate change, as victim, as cause, as someone trying to do something about it. In this light, not one of them can be seen to be responsible fully, but it brings it home how everyone on the planet is complicit in the current climate destabilisation.
I felt a growing strong sense of ”do not blame anyone” just take responsibility.
However, some animated cartoon sequences do put the blame squarely on capitalism and the oil industry. And they accuse the US, through the words of Alan Greenspan, of gong to war in Iraq for oil.
At this point, a couple of people left, maybe because the working day was over and they were not getting paid anymore, or they had a hard time with the negativity.
In terms of solutions, they come later in the film, around the last 20 minutes.
If you have seen every film on Peak Oil and climate change, go see this one anyway. We need to be moved emotionally by what is going on, and this film speaks to the heart as well as the head. If you want to understand the issues more clearly, go see the film: it lays it out clearly.
If you are new to climate change and oil, be prepared for a hard-hitting documentary.
And do see the Making Of film on the Guardian site!
The question arises: shall Transition Town initiatives show this film? We had quite a debate afterwards. My response ( and I am keen to do some transition activism in my new home town of Flen, Sweden) is to treat people like adults, and set up film and info/debate meetings before you even talk about transition. Just arrange a series of ”Climate and Oil” film showings and let it take its course.
… the main business challenge of the 2010’s. What organizations need to know about the impact of liquid fuels on communities as oil prices hike and availability wanes. For officers in the public and private sector alike, this paper describes 16 main aspects of the coming energy situation. Organisations need to consider these 16 in order to begin to craft energy depletion management strategies.
It may sound incredible, but there HAS to be a finite amount of oil in the world. The figures here are based on what is already discovered and what is thought to be available. And they are finding less and less oil by the year. So with the world population slated to grow by another 30-40 % up to 2050, we can see coming generations are not going to have the opportunities for cheap and easy energy supply that we have enjoyed.
From now on, energy constraints are going to upset most business plans and probably make the world hunger problem worse, as a lot of fuel is needed for modern agriculture.
Even though estimates of remaining oil vary, they all mean the same thing: we are on the other side of the slope. Never again will we see the current levels of oil production per capita.
What will this mean for our way of life? For the economy? It is an opportunity to rethink money and to innovate. What could this look like? Sign up for updated by e-mail or come back.
In the meantime, the world fossil fuel output per capita is discussed at length on the Oil Drum.
Acting in gratitude, appreciation and using all our gifts - intelligence, innovation, hope and determination - I believe we can create settlements for ourselves that are truly very beautiful places - reflecting the Very Beautiful Place inside.