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With a whimper.

In the 21st century, we have raised the bar in terms of comfort. Under Target’s glaring fluorescent lights, assorted goods line the gleaming shelves, each full to bursting as if mocking the very idea of want. Ten varieties and scents of what’s basically the same laundry detergent which may or may not linger in the water supply fill my line of sight. In the grocery section, produce is picked over and left to spoil at the hint of a bruise. Life for the few — the massively wealthy on a global scale, the powerless compared to the truly rich in this world, the average human in the United States of America — is more convenient than it has ever been in human history. Small wonder that we aren’t exactly keen on imagining it all going away, either by choice or at the whims of a planet that feels as vengeful as an ancient god, and justifiably so.

Hayes Brown on strange days.

2019-10-03T08:19:51+10:0019th January, 2020|Tags: climate, culture|

Adaptation.

Another reason climate deniers seem happy to risk pandemic, fire, and flood is that they are certain humankind will “adapt.”

One of the last times the climate changed this dramatically was 195,000 years ago, when the mild seasons and plentiful food that allowed for the rise of humanity gave way to a major Ice Age. Almost every single person in the world died. The species survived only because a few hundred individuals got lucky and their descendants could hide out in southern Africa for about 72,000 years.

Forget the way the word is used in Silicon Valley. That’s what “adaptation” really means.

Jonathan M. Katz knows it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

2019-07-17T10:54:31+10:0023rd November, 2019|Tags: climate|

No stakes.

The loudest and most powerful voices when it comes to the future of the planet — the ones with their hands on the levers of power — have a strong tactical advantage: they will be dead before the shit really hits the fan. This fact curiously goes unspoken, for the most part. Popular arguments tend to be framed around a rosy vision preserving the planet for future generations, which gives our boomer aristocracy the most effective cover story imaginable. They don’t need to care about that, as nice as it sounds. Why would they? It’s all completely hypothetical to them. You may as well be talking about climate patterns in Narnia. Make no mistake: older generations living in the developed world are part of history’s most under-appreciated death cult.

This isn’t abstract psychoanalysis. There is a brutal calculus going on in the minds of everyone from your skeptic uncle to the bankrollers of squillion dollar think tanks whenever they think or talk about climate change. They know that they will never have to really answer for their opinions on this matter, because they’ll be six feet under (and loving it!) when the world’s arable land is rendered infertile and its coastal cities flooded by rising oceans. In some dark and venal corner of their minds, they’re thinking about that fact all the damn time. Despite the frightening predictions of the new IPCC report, they’ve still got plenty of wiggle room to keep denying until they’re dead – which will be sooner rather than later. With any luck they’ll even avoid being held accountable in any concrete way, which for the conservative commentariat is an even worse fate than the Mad Max hellworld towards which we are hurtling.

J.R. Hennessy wants Boomers to shut up about climate change.

2019-06-04T07:33:35+10:0014th October, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, science|

The burning future.

Thousands if not millions of people are going to starve, drown, burn to death, or live out lives of misery because we’ve failed to pull together in the face of the ultimate tragedy of the commons. Many more will find themselves scrambling for basic survival goods and fretting over the prospect of more fires, more ferocious hurricanes, and summer days of blistering heat.

There’s no solving climate change any longer. There’s only living with it and doing everything in our power to limit the damage.

And seeing an entire community near one of the world’s richest regions all but wiped out, while retailers failed to meet critical public needs in the aftermath, left me with a dimmer view of our ability to grapple with the far greater challenges to come.

James Temple knows it’s not fine.

I do mildly disagree with the “there’s no solving climate change” line, which I think is fatalist and unhelpful clickbait; yeah, anthropogenic climate impacts are inevitable, and going to be severe, but that doesn’t mean they’re “insoluble” in the sense we should do nothing about them. Corralling all the world’s oil, coal, and gas industry executives in a room tomorrow, shooting them all for crimes against humanity, and outlawing their industries would, in fact, have a great impact on climate change. It would also have a great impact on, like, everyone else so it’s not necessarily a policy I’d be espousing at this time but, like. There’s probably an approach between that and “fatalistic acceptance”, y’know?

2019-01-21T09:56:16+11:0011th June, 2019|Tags: climate|

Realistic future.

It was a moment of the kind that changes lives. At a press conference held by climate activists Extinction Rebellion last week, two of us journalists pressed the organisers on whether their aims were realistic. They have called, for example, for UK carbon emissions to be reduced to net zero by 2025. Wouldn’t it be better, we asked, to pursue some intermediate aims?

A young woman called Lizia Woolf stepped forward. She hadn’t spoken before, but the passion, grief and fury of her response was utterly compelling. “What is it that you are asking me as a 20-year-old to face and to accept about my future and my life? … This is an emergency. We are facing extinction. When you ask questions like that, what is it you want me to feel?” We had no answer.

George Monbiot on the dying Earth.

“Intermediate aims” are great for people who won’t have to live through the consequences, I guess…

2019-01-17T08:37:09+11:003rd June, 2019|Tags: climate|

Also, Bitcoin.

Oh, and also Bitcoin needs to immediately join Baby Boomers and billionaires1 in the climate change trashcan.

(Also big shout-out to the linked article for remembering Hashcash, which I haven’t heard about since the 90s.)2

  1. … what is it about the letter B that hates the environment so much? []
  2. Because it was bad, to be clear. []
2018-11-27T13:39:15+11:0013th April, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, tech|

Mo’ money, mo’ carbon.

Also, while we’re on the subject: it’s not using plastic straws or taking half-hour showers that’s destroying the environment. It’s the fucking mega-rich.

Repeat after me, kids: Individual “choices” cannot fix structural issues. And as the article points out:

[T]here is no “free market” incentive to prevent disaster. An economic environment where a company is only considered viable if it’s constantly expanding and increasing its production can’t be expected to pump its own brakes over something as trivial as pending global catastrophe. Instead, market logic dictates that rather than take the financial hit that comes with cutting profits, it’s more reasonable to find a way to make money off the boiling ocean. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the burgeoning climate-change investment industry. According to Bloomberg, investors are looking to make money off of everything from revamped food production to hotels for people fleeing increasingly hurricane-ravaged areas. A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction.

Grotesque.

2018-11-27T13:34:21+11:0012th April, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, politics, science|

Denial.

This is why we’re all going to die, by the way. Yes, the coming nuclear war with North Korea or whoever isn’t going to be pleasant, but some people will survive. No human will survive the coming temperature increase, and it’s going to happen because the science wing of the government of one of the biggest superpowers in the world today can’t talk about technological solutions to the problem because the people running that committee can’t even get past the fact that it’s really happening. It’s as if our house is on fire and when the firemen show up they say, “I’m sorry but we just don’t believe in fire.” And you’re like, “Wait, you what now?” And they say, “We don’t really have any evidence fire is real. What even is it? If it’s a solid then how does my hand pass through it? If it’s a gas why can I see it? How does it grow if it’s not alive? I read a scientific article on 4chan that says that fire is a Chinese conspiracy made up to frighten us into being chilly in the winter.”

When you’re dealing with someone that willfully stupid, your house is just going to burn down because by the time you answer all their stupid questions it will be too late.

Rebecca Watson throws rocks into the sea.

2019-04-29T12:03:08+10:0018th November, 2018|Tags: climate, politics, science|