Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Climate Wednesday: Still Occasionally Being Positive

I read two pretty cool stories that are related and made me feel a little hopeful on the environment front because they suggest ways to overcome one of the greatest obstacles to tackling our energy and pollution problems--you know: human obstinacy. The first is a nice overview of how to talk to conservatives about climate issues from Salon. The other is a story of how a red state turned green over at ThinkProgress, basically showing how those arguments work in practice.

For my part, although I can get as worked up over oiled sea birds and dying dolphins as anyone, I can understand how those images are dismissed as maudlin. The same thing goes for diasappearing rainforest acreage--for many people, economics is transactional: exploitation of resources is exchanged for wealth. But it's bad economics--an actual waste of resources that doesn't yield as much wealth as it's throwing away. When you consider the massive economic damage that could be wrought, for example, by Arctic melting (that's $60 Trillion-with-a-"T"), that many people already suspect that Arctic warming is no good,  and that we can actually see that something is going on there, you've got the beginnings of a very practical, not a "hippy-dippy tree-hugging", argument that some changes must be made. Also, it's one thing for denialist politicians to smirk about limited weather events like snow or a lucky handful of temperate days and point to those as signs things must be okay--but when contending with the fall-out of major storm systems that do billions dollars of damage, or when being responsible for city-planning in a coastal region and needing to face up to the idea that significant real estate will simply cease to be usable without scuba gear?  It's just nonsensical to ignore climate issues when the stakes are as high as they are.

And the small-scale economic arguments against doing anything about it ("What about jobs?"  "What about energy prices?") just aren't legit in the long run. Not to mention, that what's money if our reckless resource use is spoiling our water and the land we grow food on? One doesn't eat money. And I think those arguments are easy to make and understand because they don't get into the weeds about the science at all--just enlightened self-interest and good business sense. It's the people who insist on wasteful, dirty energy that have got it wrong.

No comments: