Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 5-1-07

  • When we hear the politicians bluster and prevaricate about global warming after this Friday's final IPCC report, watered down as they will make it, have this article handy with the actual math of what will need to be done in lowering greenhouse gas emissions to get us down to a manageable world (h/t Grist).
  • As we noted yesterday, the world's poorer nations are hacked about the irresponsibility of the rich ones on this, and their own options are bound to cheap, nasty fuels, like poor families get more daily calories by buying chips and soda. As a guy from Sri Lanka put it: "Ten years ago (our energy) was mostly hydro-electricity," said delegate Lalith Chandrapala, from Sri Lanka's Department of Meteorology. "Now, with the increase in power consumption... we are going into coal. The problem is for a country like Sri Lanka, because our economy is not that strong, we can't afford anything else." And EU nations are again calling out China and India for pretending they're in the Sri Lanka camp: "The argument that you are still a developing country is getting weaker and weaker," said Marzio Galeotti, Italian delegate and an energy economist at the University of Milan. "In a few years, in terms of overall GDP (gross domestic product), China will overcome even Japan and will be close to the US." Sounds like a fun meeting, duddn't it?
  • Meanwhile, the Indonesias of the world get to figure out how to grow their rice in non-rainy climate.
  • The EU is setting the standard for the world and will get the historical credit for taking global warming and its energy and water effects seriously. Like President Gore, they seem to know that those setting the agenda get to direct the discussion when everyone finally does have to pay attention. Norway is actually pledging to hit 0 carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, and they've figured out there that those setting the agenda also rake in the bucks available in the new economy that will be needed and built: "According to Frederic Hauge, the head of the Norwegian environmental organisation Bellona, Norway has a 'moral responsibility' to develop new technologies that are out-of-reach for other countries precisely because it has built its immense wealth on the climate-unfriendly oil industry. And, he notes, 'there's a lot of money to be made in this sector.'" Maybe it's because France just had its hottest April since 1950.
  • Stateline does its usual excellent job of overviewing the work of states on global warming in light of the failure of "President" Bushnev and his Comintern to get the job done. Even one of his former cabinet members says flat-out that nothing will happen until Georgi is gone. But then she did flat-out nothing while working for him and has the gall to go Lieberman and claim that calling people out on their perfidy will just make them mad and hard to work with. Oh, yeah? Well, please STFU, Christie. Examples of states? How about the six Colorado River states reaching agreement on water use in drought times? How about one of those states, WY, protesting the "exploratory" drilling in national forest (smart, cut down trees to get at carbon-based fuel) about to be approved by Bushnev's nomenklatura? On the other hand, there's still south FL where people are watering their lawns during their very serious drought. Fortunately, one resident's got the epitaph ready: "South Florida has got to grow up," Cook said. "More and more people are drinking from a smaller and smaller glass." Trouble is, it may be for all of us.
  • Finally, a couple of years back I read a great book, Wonderland, on a year in a high school which featured one student’s effort to get John Mayer to play at their prom. Mayer came off as self-impressed and superficial, someone who’s spent just a tad too much time figuring out chords and not nearly enough with reality. He’s just proven it. What an inconsequential tool. What’s terrible is that his fans may actually go along with this (bad) nonsense. The biggest problem with Mayer’s myopia (yes, alliteration) and people like him is the assumption that we’re always in control of nature, that Western illusion, that allows us to ignore that, in situations unfaced by humans before, we, you know, might not know what to do if everything starts tumbling down in a nonlinear way. They’re locked into the popular “he said, she said, so the truth must be somewhere in between” model without understanding that “she” is Mother Nature and she sets our rules. We can only structure and protest ourselves against those rules so far, as anyone who’s been through a tornado can tell you. If the contest is between “humans decide” and “Nature decides,” we aren’t God, although Mayer clearly is not sure about that. So, let’s let this gentleman meander around with his oh-so-cool “light green” (aka, do nothing that really challenges anything or anyone) and try to keep them out of the way. The key will be flexibility and an acceptance of our limited knowledge in a mature way that seeks the best we can do knowing what we do know. Nature will work its way on us in this. Thinking we have the luxury of time and choice will fall away as reality sets in. Although that happening with Mayer is highly unlikely.