Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monbiot and Reducing Climate Change

I read George Monbiot's Heat last week (which makes this post very outdated indeed...). Its very good, everybody should read it. The thing is that it deals with how it is possible to, with a decent amount of probability, prevent that global warming goes into the beyond tolerable. It will be hard but doable.

The effect this book had on me is that I now feel ready to act. Monbiot basically shows what needs to be done, now we have to get about doing it. It won't be enough just to change one's own life, we have to start putting pressure on those in power.

Here is a good interview that will give you a good idea about what needs to be done (and why for those of you who do not know that). My favorite line is the one comparing what is required from us to face this crisis compared to WWII.

You say that flying less is a sacrifice too great for the people of this country to bear. But the last time the world was faced with an existential crisis - the rise of the Axis powers - millions of people were asked to sacrifice their lives to prevent it. Now, we are being asked to sacrifice our holidays in Florida and Thailand.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. (YouTube)

Now, there are some things about which I do not agree with Mr. Monbiot. They are not central to the argument. He essentially says that the controversy over what the scientific position on climate change is cause by people not understanding what science is. This I think is only part of the problem. Climate change reveals problems in the very scientific method itself. It clearly seems to be beyond what is possible for todays scientists to reach a scientific conclusion about the entire phenomenon. All the experts deal with small aspects in which the method works, but it seems that when it comes to compiling all this data it is no longer possible to keep the same methodical stringency. Hence the controversy over IPCC:s reports.

While there certainly does not exist any better tries as assessing the entire phenomenon then IPCC, it is still open to criticism, which sadly is used to prevent the needed the decisions to being taken.


David Kirk said...

I like Monbiot. He's a regular commentator in the Guardian over here. I don't always agree with him, but he's always earnest, well-researched and challenging on issues that the general populace seem to be more asleep on. A kind of prophet, no less.

The Arcadian said...

It seems to me that anyone coming at the problem with an inherent prejudice (like most climate change critics do) will find a foothold on which to criticise.

Anyone who knows anything about science or the history of science will know that methodological consistency is not good enough grounds for criticism, otherwise we'd be questioning the very scientific principles of engineering that keep our roofs from collapsing on our heads.

Besides, there are more incentives other than climate change to get people to act on climate change.

There's simply no excuse to justify our wanton consumption of the earth's resources.