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The New Math


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View Tom Turner's blog posts
24 July 2012, 12:05 PM
Bill McKibben takes us to school—and nominates Public Enemy #1
Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben,  who first alerted the non-scientific world to global climate change two decades ago with The End of Nature  has a new piece in Rolling Stone that he says is the most important thing he’s written in the past 20 years, and he’s written hundreds of articles and books during that period.

It’s titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” and it’s long but worth reading. More than worth reading.
 

 
He speaks of three important numbers. One is two degrees Celsius (about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the maximum the average temperature the planet can be allowed to rise without triggering irreversible calamity (it’s already up by 0.8 degrees Celsius).
 
A second number is how much carbon can be added to the atmosphere before the 2-degree threshold is passed. We needn’t get too technical here; suffice to say that the third number—the amount of proven fossil fuel reserves in the world—is five times the second number. In other words, energy companies and energy-rich countries are sitting on five times as much carbon as the atmosphere can absorb without catastrophic consequences.
 
The only solution is to leave most of the oil, coal, and gas in the ground in the ground. This is clearly a fiendishly difficult sales job given the power of the energy industry.
 
McKIbben laments the utter lack of progress in combating this situation and argues that what’s been lacking is a suitable villain:
 

So: the paths we have tried to tackle global warming have so far produced only gradual, halting shifts. A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies. As John F. Kennedy put it, ‘The civil rights movement should thank God for Bull Connor. He's helped it as much as Abraham Lincoln.’ And enemies are what climate change has lacked.
 
But what all these climate numbers make painfully, usefully clear is that the planet does indeed have an enemy – one far more committed to action than governments or individuals. Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization. ‘Lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business—pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops—and we pressure them to change those practices,’ says veteran anti-corporate leader Naomi Klein, who is at work on a book about the climate crisis. ‘But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It's what they do.

 
McKibben goes on to make an interesting comparison between the international effort to end apartheid in South Africa and what we must do to rein in the energy companies.
There’s much food for thought here, and I commend it to you.

I just found your site and I'd tell you it is absolutely wonderful and I wish you good luck.

voyance par telephone

"As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease." Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?"

"The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency." UN Food and Agricultural Organization's report "Livestock's Long Shadow"

“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains... the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund

Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org

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