The next two articles I’m writing about reminded me of a case I heard about last year (reported here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3346988/Psychiatrists-discover-first-case-of-climate-change-delusion.html). Australia is host to the first case of ‘climate change delusion’, where a 17 year old boy in Melbourne “refused to drink water because he ‘felt guilty’ about the effect it would have on the environment”. The boy thought that “due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of millions of people.” This is very sad and, as one could probably guess, was seized upon by both CC camps (as evidence of CC’s lunacy, or as evidence of increasing health/psychological effects of CC).
On a personal note – sometimes the enormity of the changes needed overwhelm me and I (temporarily) think that nothing I do could make an iota of difference. Maybe it’s time to give ourselves a break? With that in mind, here are two views, relatively rare for their topics, about celebrating what small positives there are, and about juggling priorities.
Gwynne Dyer is a prolific Canadian journalist based in London and I found an article of his on the site Just Earth (http://www.justearth.net/node/121). The July 2009 article is called Climate Change: Two Cheers for Two Degrees. In it, Dyer talks about how, for example, the US and India both have the agendas of their people to take into account in the unique ways they are dealing with CC changes. The US Congress, he says, “is a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industries” and as such can’t do a backflip on Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto protocol. Similarly, India can’t “ignore the resentment felt by most Indians when their country is asked to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and slow its own development” when they didn’t create the problem.
He goes on to say that it’s practically a miracle that the 18 largest carbon emitters have agreed on the 2 degrees ‘no rise’ of earth’s temperature (since 1900). Eight of these countries decided to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, but wouldn’t set interim targets for 2020 as requested by five rapidly developing nations. However Dyer says that 2 degree agreement would have been “seen as fantasy only eighteen months ago”, and that although it definitely isn’t enough, that’s how the slow-moving world of politics works and that we should give hurrahs for this milestone. IPCC chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri said, “It certainly doesn’t give you a roadmap on how you should get there but at least they’ve defined the destination.”
The other view I wanted to examine was an article from Environment and Energy Daily (accessed through Stanford Law faculty because it wasn’t free. http://www.law.stanford.edu/news/details/2756/Resources:%20House%20Members%20Seek%20%27New%20Paradigm%27%20To%20Address%20Climate%20Change,%20Economic%20Downturn/) about House Members in the US seeking new paradigms to address CC. Basically what it means is that with economic downturn, natural resources under threat may not get the same protection from CC and development. Conservation groups will have to look for new income sources as gifts decline, reduce spending and build CC adaptation into plans they’re making for conservation of areas/species.
But the part that really caught my attention was reference to wildlife and areas that are ALL under threat. Barton Thompson, director of an environment institute at Stanford University, suggests that the government should “prioritise resources, which could mean making the hard choice to dismiss some species.” Is this the ultimate in damage control? Deciding that the battle’s lost for most threatened species and concentrating our efforts on only some? It was a hard thing to think about. I thought that that kind of thinking might be a very last resort, but maybe I’m too idealistic. Thompson says that most conservation laws “do not give wiggle room for agencies to consider what is feasible”, requiring them to work on saving ALL threatened species.
I wonder what kind of prioritising is going to be necessary in future, or whether it will help. A loss of the world’s fragile biodiversity has been feared for many years and for many reasons other than CC.