Sunday, 9 December 2007

Monbiot on Bali

"When you warn people about the dangers of climate change, they call you a saint. When you explain what needs to be done to stop it, they call you a communist. Let me show you why." (1)
Gorgeous George does some number crunching to explore what 'meaningful action about climate change' might actually meaningfully mean, particularly to pampered Westerners like yours truly.
"I looked up the global figures for carbon dioxide production in 2000 and divided it by the current population. This gives a baseline figure of 3.58 tonnes of CO2 per person. An 85% cut means that (if the population remains constant) the global output per head should be reduced to 0.537t by 2050. The UK currently produces 9.6 tonnes per head and the US 23.6t. Reducing these figures to 0.537t means a 94.4% cut in the UK and a 97.7% cut in the US. But the world population will rise in the same period. If we assume a population of 9bn in 2050, the cuts rise to 95.9% in the UK and 98.3% in the US." (2)
He makes good on his promise to explain why people who woant action on climate change mget labelled communisits - because they are challenging the fantastic super-consumption required to grow the economy at the rate needed to keep the very rich feeling very rich:
"Underlying the immediate problem is a much greater one. In a lecture to the Royal Academy of Engineering in May, Professor Rod Smith of Imperial College explained that a growth rate of 3% means economic activity doubles in 23 years. At 10% it takes just 7 years. This we knew. But Smith takes it further. With a series of equations he shows that “each successive doubling period consumes as much resource as all the previous doubling periods combined.” In other words, if our economy grows at 3% between now and 2030, we will consume in that period economic resources equivalent to all those we have consumed since humans first stood on two legs. Then, between 2030 and 2053, we must double our total consumption again. Reading that paper I realised for the first time what we are up against." (3)
Stuff like this scares me shitless because it gives me those horrible moments of clarity when I realise that what Monbiot, climatologists and most sane people are calling for is at such total odds with the desires of the people who have most of the wealth and power that I don't know if they'll go along with it. In which case, what?
1 - "What is progress?," by George Monbiot, posted on monbiot.co, 4th of December, 2007.(http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/12/04/what-is-progress/)
2 - ibid.
3 - ibid.

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