Greed to Green

by Bryan Walker on February 15, 2010

greed to green

We can’t successfully tackle climate change without changes to the corporate regime which has been in place in America since the Reagan presidency. That’s the underlying message of  Charles Derber in his latest book Greed to Green: Solving Global Warming and Remaking the Economy. It’s a message he delivers with directness in a book much more readable than I expected from an academic sociologist.

He accepts the position of scientists like Hansen and others who point to the ominous dangers of tipping points in climate and conclude that we are already above a safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which they consider no more than 350 parts per million.  It’s not a happy acceptance. “No sane person would wish it to be the scientific truth.” He recounts the terrible difficulty he had, after realising with despair the seriousness of climate change, in dealing emotionally with the prospect of mass, collective death – “more difficult than dealing with my own personal death”.

The only good news he discerns is that the scientific truth may be spreading and leading to a tipping point in the world’s social and political awareness. But any realisation of the scientific truth by a majority of the community has not passed beyond cognition to what he calls gut acceptance. He acknowledges the difficulties of such acceptance, drawing on his own experience. The reality is so serious it intensifies the psychological pressure to deny.

Nevertheless he identifies some factors that make gut acceptance of climate change tolerable: we have the power to stop or mitigate it, tackling it can also contribute to solving more immediate social problems, and there are benefits in the green lifestyle. Meanwhile the denial industry has been powerfully influential, though he notes that it is now moving from Stage 1 denial, that global warming is a hoax,  to Stage 2, that human-caused global warming exists but must be solved gradually with a slow phasing out of fossil fuels. “If the new denial succeeds, civilisation will be destroyed in the name of green incremental reform.”

In sectors of America greening is partly under way thanks to the actions of long-term thinkers. However the frontal long-term attack is insufficient to gather wide enough public support. It needs to be accompanied by a second path – what he calls a “time-tricking” strategy that seeks to solve the long-term crisis by hitching a ride on the back of short term issues worrying the majority of Americans. He sees this as a key strategy for the Obama administration – and one which Obama himself understands and is already employing.

But there has to be a systemic shift in power. A change from the current corporate regime, in place since the Reagan presidency, is essential if climate change is to be tackled. Unrestrained capitalism creates climate change. It externalises environmental and social costs. It is destructive of the commons. Derber urges a new green regime, which he describes as the best blend of different economic models with surviving corporations restructured and subject to greater public accountability.

Socialism by stealth I can hear the denialists proclaiming. Certainly Derber associates himself with the welfare of working people and sees the necessity for organised labour to play a significant part in a green regime. He laments the way American jobs have been degraded under the corporate regime, many outsourced and others casualised. One of the important  attractions of a green regime is that it will be rich in secure jobs, many of them associated with renewable energy. He also proposes pragmatic temporary nationalisation of some banks and of giant dysfunctional oil and coal companies.  But not  on the basis of any socialist ideology. The banks have already required enormous injections of public money to keep them afloat. The fossil fuel energy giants such as Exxon are already effectively on the public dole.

Essentially Derber is urging a transformation of America away from an increasingly unstable economy based on ever-growing consumption of unnecessary goods and ever-expanding suburban housing. Coerced consumerism he calls it, which has locked Americans into a pattern of insecurity and overwork. In its place he urges an economy solidly based on the production of green energy and its efficient use. Those jobs stay local and secure. And there’s plenty of room for market-inspired innovation within such an economy. The transformation is necessary to fight climate change, and at the same time it works to alleviate America’s current social justice crises.

Derber’s book is focused on the US “because a green revolution here will be a shot heard around the world.”  In discussing the ways in which the green revolution becomes global he points to “a new posthegemonic order of green security and globalisation”.  He’s firm on the need for the West to take responsibility for the poverty and environmental degradation it has foisted on the rest of the world. The West must finance massive aid and technology transfers that allow the remaining nations to develop a green strategy without giving up their rights to achieve a decent standard of life.  He offers several suggestions for finding the money for this purpose: cut the bloated American military budget; implement a green Tobin tax on currency movements; cancel dirty debt in exchange for green development; create a new “commons” of clean energy technology.  The importance of a global carbon tax is explained.  An interesting take on going local, not to abolish globalisation but to reduce its space, sees Derber use the term glocalism, favouring local economies wherever possible and reserving global production only for those areas where local production cannot work.

Derber is impressed by much that Obama has said about climate change and much that he has set in place. He particularly welcomes the respect he has accorded to science and scientists who understand the reality of global warming.  But it would be a mistake to think he won’t need a big push from social movements.  Derber himself is a lifelong social activist. He considers that today’s social and environmental movements are the best last hope for solving global warming on the urgent time scale required. It has always been social movements  which have awakened America to urgent systemic crises such as slavery, women’s disenfranchisement, or the capitalist exploitation of workers.  Derber discusses the ways in which movements can face up to the existential truth of the emergency of climate change and take swift radical action to mobilize the largest number of people including the president.

Derber is a lively writer. He has a go at a short Greek drama in the course of his book, with the Oracle reminding foolish people that time is running out.  He also provides the text of several fireside chats for Obama to have with the American people, in the fashion of Franklin Roosevelt. In an engaging short personal account he answers any who wonder whether he walks his talk – a mixed case, he reports, not a couch potato but not a hero-activist either.  His talk made good sense to me, whether he walks it assiduously or not.

{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm

So Derber is impressed by much that Obama has said about climate change and much that he has set in place is he? Does this include the results of the Copenhagen conference or was this book written before that particular abortion happened?

Viva the Revolution Comrades! LOL!!!

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Gosman, Derber’s book was written with Copenhagen in prospect. He describes it as a crucial test, but acknowledges that leaders may well fail to achieve the radical greenhouse gas caps and carbon tax agreements needed. In which case, he comments that global movements will have to redouble their efforts.

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Sounds pretty much like what the ‘progressive’ left have been pushing since the early 1970′s. Some sort of radical realignment of society where the ‘nasty evil’ aspects of Capitalism are abolished and we all live in peace and harmony.

I am actually reminded of a meeting I attended in the UK where some young Communist activists tried to argue that the anti-war in Iraq demonstrations in 2002 showed that a Socialist revolution was still viable and in fact inevitable.

Just as the activist anger generated by the Iraq war failed to morph into anything substantial I doubt that the sort of mobilisation of the ‘people’ suggested by Derber is going to actually happen .

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

“He’s firm on the need for the West to take responsibility for the poverty and environmental degradation it has foisted on the rest of the world.”

I just love the liberal guilt complex. How exactly has the West foisted poverty on anyone? So the reason that people in say Zimbabwe are on the whole so poor is pretty much the West’s fault is it? How pathetic is that analysis.

Andrew W February 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm

He sounds like a watermelon flake who has almost no understanding of the realities of economics or of human nature.

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Gosman, Derber has only one reference to communism in his book. Here it is:

“Capitalism is not the only system that can cause climate change. Soviet communism was worse. So was communist China in the twentieth century.”

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Derber is typical of liberal lefties. His version is a fuzzy socialism lite vision of the future with, as Andrew W so succinctly put it, ” almost no understanding of the realities of economics or of human nature.”

Please tell me a country in the developing world where massive amounts of foreign aid has made a blind bit of difference to the overall economic well being of the majority of the people living in the country?

Macro February 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I don’t thing Andrew W has much appreciation of the realities of economics or of human nature.
Malawi. Want to check it out? Just imagine what a decent capital investment might achieve.

georgedarroch February 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

He sounds like an optimist. Good for him.

I think that such optimism about change is unwarranted. Much better to wait for the inevitable climate crunch, and have laid the groundwork to seize the trajectory from the delayers, deniers, and plain hypocrites when the time comes.

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Viva the Revolution Comrade!

Ooops , already mentioned that.

Rob Taylor February 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Better dead than Red, Gosman?

I’m sure your descendants will take comfort from that in their daily struggle for survival.

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Go on, I know you want to do it. Mention the War. I dare you. I double dare you.

Rob Taylor February 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm
Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Andrew W
“He sounds like a watermelon flake who has almost no understanding of the realities of economics or of human nature.”

Derber: “TINA (‘there is no alternative’) is a suicidal but seductive philosophy, especially alluring in the US, based as it is on the truth that capitalist economies can be powerful engines of seemingly unlimited growth, profit, and individualism. But these very capitalist attributes – and the rejection of limits in itself – are part of what make the US capitalist model systemically dangerous for the environment and a leading cause of climate change.”

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

This is rather ironic because, as I have stated here in the recent past, Derber and his ilk have just turned TINA on it’s head and applied it to the responses to Climate Change.

Kim February 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Gosman, since you seem such the expert at ripping other people’s arguments and suggestions to shreds. Do you have anything meaningful to contribute, a suggestion or two of your own? Or do you believe we should all just leave things as they are going along now and the corporatocracy we live under will eventually sort it out?

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I’m a gradualist as well as a realist Kim.

I happen to think that there is no way radical changes are ever successfully implemented in the timeframes suggested by some people involved in the Climate change debate. Certainly if some attempt to do so then there are some rather nasty unintended consequences as a result.

I’d rather think of means for mitigating the more adverse impacts of climate change than attempting the virtually impossible task of a social and economic revolution. That is not to state that I don’t support actions to reduce any major negative impacts on the environment human activity causes just that we need to be be willing to look at a wide range of possible solutions, including adaptation.

Kim February 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Wow! A realistic gradualist, I don’t think I’ve come across one of those before. :-/

I hope you are right (for my children’s sake) but considering we have been ‘gradually’ spewing damaging crap into our atmosphere, oceans and waterways unhindered since the beginning of the industrial revolution, I’m not sure that mitigating the worst of it will make any damn difference.

Like I say I hope you’re right…

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm

‘But won’t someone please think of the little children!’

Always a pleasure to see when someone resorts to that old canard. Almost as good as when someone brings up the Nazi’s.

Kim February 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I can only think here you are comparing thinking of the future generations to people who are holocaust-deniers. Wow – that is big stretch. What planet are you from again?

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Ummmmmmm…… no I’m not. I am meaning people who might make outrageous claims that anyone who disagrees with their views about Climate Change are equivalent to people who failed to stop the holocaust.

What are your views about this Kim?

Kim February 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

I see your point, holacaust denialism is different as it refers to the past.
It still seems like a stretch to me. I have never read anything (certainly not on this blog) that compares denialists (Hello R2D2!!) to people that ignored the holocaust. You obviously have or are you just using a bad analogy?

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Well Kim I wouldn’t want to use a bad analogy now would I.

Here’s a quote from someone posting comments on the recent thread about Rodney Hide’s speach in Parliament last week.

” That’s right, Mikh, you just be a “good German” and do what you’re told – go to work, consume, watch TV and ignore the screams from the camps and all those box cars going in full and coming out empty…”

Pretty explicit Nazi-Climate change denier comparision there don’t you think?

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Good to see you coming out as a hard core liberal lefty Bryan. At least now we can frame discussion in more ideological terms instead of you hiding behind the mantle of ‘Science’ all the time.

Kim February 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm

That is bull! It doesn’t have to be framed as an ideological debate. Just because someone points out the inadequacies of rampant capatilism does not necessarily mean they are a ‘hard-core liberal lefty’!! Talk about polemic! As the author pointed out Russia’s communist regime was even worse. Get a grip!

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:56 pm

But that is what Derber is doing with all his tallk about how the West has foisted poverty and environmental degradation on the rest of the world. If Bryan buys into that sort of leftist nonsense it is little wonder the PR battle is being lost.

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Gosman:
“there is no way radical changes are ever successfully implemented in the timeframes suggested by some people involved in the Climate change debate. ”

You perhaps fall into Derber’s category of stage 2 denialists, as described in the review? I’ll expand a little with a quote from the book:

“At the heart of stage 2 denial is rejection of the truth of a crisis requiring immediate and drastic change. We can define stage 2 as accepting the scientific consensus on a cognitive level, but denying the gut truth that will propel the all-out action we need now.”

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Wow! I fall into some sort of category dreamed up by some good old fashioned liberal lefty.

Why do you not address some of the issues that have been raised about Derber’s ideas Bryan, such as how exactlythe West has foisted poverty on other nations?

Where is the evidence for this Bryan?

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Gosman
“Good to see you coming out as a hard core liberal lefty Bryan. At least now we can frame discussion in more ideological terms instead of you hiding behind the mantle of ‘Science’ all the time.”

Sorry to disappoint you, but in the matter of climate change my political orientation (which isn’t ‘hard core’ anything by the way – ‘wishy-washy’ is about as far as I ever get along any path) has absolutely nothing to do with the anxiety my reading of climate science has engendered. All the political taunts in the world are completely beside the point.

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm

If you think Derber’s ideas to tackle climate change are a viable option then you aren’t wishy-washy anything Bryan. You can call yourself anything you like but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Gosman
“Why do you not address some of the issues that have been raised about Derber’s ideas Bryan, such as how exactlythe West has foisted poverty on other nations? Where is the evidence for this Bryan?”

I don’t address it because this is a climate change website and I am reviewing his book, not promoting his ideas. He actually doesn’t discuss the question in any great detail in this book anyway. This sentence may indicate the basis of his thinking: “…like earlier Western hegemons, US hegemony divides the West from everywhere else, with its own shameful neocolonial legacy of of Western privilege and resulting poverty throughout the rest of the globe.” Maybe in other books he has more to say. I haven’t read any. But in any case I’m not willing to take up your invitation for the reasons I’ve stated. I bought his book because it was about addressing climate change, not because of his political orientation. I won’t commit myself on the political dimension, no matter how much you urge me to do so.

Gosman February 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The trouble is Derber is explictly pushing a specific political idealogy as a solution to the challenges of Climate Change. To make comment on his book and imply that it makes good sense and then try and argue that you don’t want to commit yourself on the political dimension is intellectually dishonest from my point of view.

Have a read of this piece from the BBC which discusses this very issue.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8468233.stm

Professor Mike Hulme makes the following quote “”That’s why all organisations and all interest groups should be upfront and explicit about the underpinning ethical and ideological drivers of their preferred solution.”

Macro February 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

There are many people who agree with Derber’s conclusions And it does make good sense. To maintain that the ideology of neo-liberal economics could ever provide any solution to the challenges of AGW is simply wishful thinking. Our current economic structures are based firmly upon the principle of “growth” – wherein the falsehood lies. Furthermore, our market structures are biased in favour of those who have – the result is that countries that adopt these ideologies become less and less equitable and the steadily impoverished middle and lower income groups demand more and more growth to survive. Why? Because the rich minority grab more and more of the cake – so the cake must grow larger and larger to support the increasing poor who are having to survive on a smaller and smaller proportion. For instance in NZ today 90% of taxed income is “earnt” by 10% of taxpayers. Its even worse in the USA. But it won’t be long before we catch up if we continue with neo-liberal policies.
Now this may seem to be off topic – but it is not. By changing our economic structures, so that we work towards a more equitable distribution of wealth (as we had in the 1950′s and 60′s) the cake would not need to grow as fast – if at all – because there is enough cake – its just not shared very evenly. By not growing the cake, reducing our energy requirements, changing to alternative energy sources other than fossil fuels, etc we can perhaps meet some of the challenges. But most of this will need to be legislated – the market will not have a bar of it.

Gareth February 15, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Macro: you might want to check out the podcast of Chris Laidlaw’s interview with Jeanette Fitzsimons on Sunday morning (here). I only caught a bit of it, but the discussion of steady state economies was most interesting.

Macro February 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Yes I did hear a snippet – The concept of steady state economies is something that I believe must become part and parcel of any sustainable solution, and although I haven’t read the book so well reviewed here, I’m sure it is what Derber has in mind also.

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Gosman
“The trouble is Derber is explictly pushing a specific political ideology as a solution to the challenges of Climate Change”

He’s saying that there will need to be changes to the prevailing economic system, which I would have thought is obvious to anyone troubled by our neglect of the environment. He makes some suggestions as to what those changes will need to be, some of which I found interesting and sensible. You’ve already directed our attention to the BBC opinion piece. I’ve already expressed my puzzlement as to what Mike Hulme is really on about. What I care about is to see action from any quarter, left, right or centre, which will result in a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

mikh February 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Very significant I think Bryan, that your posting today centres around a revisionist look at the history of the politics involving AGW, rather than a modern rebuttal of the AGW sceptic/denier argument.

The back foot, very handy in cricket of course.

Gosman, may I refer you back to the posting and comments…

http://hot-topic.co.nz/eggface-interface-for-hide-and-the-climate-cranks/#comment-10444

I would appreciate contact.

Bryan Walker February 15, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Mikh, you don’t make yourself very clear. This post is a review of a book by a sociologist concerned about how we can best address climate change. He is in no doubt about the scientific reality. Why would he concern himself with rebutting the AGW sceptic/denier argument? Or is it me who is on the back foot for choosing to review such a book? On the defensive against the superior power of denial?

Gareth February 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Gosman and mikh: if you were to accept for a moment (and for the sake of discussion) that climate change is a real and pressing problem. No caveats: as bad as I think it is not as you might wish it to be. You don’t like the solutions currently on the international agenda, or the sorts of actions suggested by Derber. So, please, enlighten me as to how you would address this problem. What would work for you?

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hypotheticals are kind of silly and also I have no idea how ‘bad’ you think the problem is.

However if you want options how about this one if faced with ‘imminent’ Human species extinction here’s one:

- Declare martial law.

- Forceable evacuate all Urban areas.

- Move population into eco-relocation zones in country side.

- Cull 3/4 of World’s population in areas of Globe that will be most impacted by effects of Global warming (i.e. mid latitudes).

- Use materials from emptied cities as basis for new settlements (Recycle and Reuse).

- Forbid any activity that might contribute to Climate change except for a few of the small ‘elite’ on pain of death. (Reduce)

-Live happily ever after (Well some of the people anyway).

I’m sure you might think that implementing this is would be a tad problematic, (as well as morally dubious). That stated it is probably more realistic quick solution to your hypothetic ‘bad’ situation than that suggested by Derber.

BTW In no way am I advocating the above option, but if people are throwing hypthetical questions about worst case scenarios around I’m throwing hypthetical worst case solutions back.

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 10:21 am

You’re dodging the question. Given a serious problem, one that requires emissions reductions of at least 50% globally by 2050 (preferably more), what form of solution would be acceptable to you?

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 10:56 am

I’m not dodging anything. You simply haven’t defined your hypothetical scenario in enough detail for anything but a hypothetical answer.

If we don’t get at least a 50% reduction by 2050 then what are you suggesting will happen under your scenario and under what timeframe?

If we achieve 50% reduction but not any more then what would would happen?

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

I don’t need to define “bad” that tightly for you to give me a feeling for the sorts of approaches you would find acceptable. What sorts of policy tools to reduce emissions would be acceptable to you? Carbon taxes, cap and trade, mandated efficiency standards, etc etc usw. You choose.

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Carbon taxes and mandated efficiency standards are are good start.

A Carbon tax is pretty much the same as a ‘Sin’ tax on something like Alcohol and Tobacco. you could combine this with either a general reduction in other consumption and/or income taxes. Any implementation of this will have to be carefully managed as there may well be unintended consequences of driving high Carbon users someplace where a Carbon tax does not apply or is at lower rate.

Mandated efficiency standards seem to have worked quite well when it comes to environmental problems such as water and air quality in various developed nations. Again care has to be taken in setting these as you don’t want to set them so high initially that you cause your industry to contract due to not being able to meet them. Steadily stepping up the standards over a period of time should be the goal taking into account environmental and economic goals.

Emissions trading and Caps seems to be a bit of an artificial State created market to me. It reminds me of the Catholic Church in the Middle ages selling indulgences for sinners. Additionally it is so open to political manipulation that it makes it a bit of a joke. I have read of companies in the EU lobbying for initial cap levels so high that they make instant profits at taxpayers expense.

Tax breaks for alternative energy research and development is also something I would support. However I tend to think that as the price of our current energy increases the market will naturally lead to this sort of thing anyway.

Consumption taxes are also a good way of discouraging people from spending too much money on potentially frivalous and environmentally damaging products and services. However I prefer the tax to be applied across the board rather than targetted as distortions can occur.

Finally I am not interested in setting up Multi-billion dollar funds to ‘help’ the developing countries. Foreign aid is not effective at dealing with the complexities of development, let alone the challenges of climate change. Reforming the international legal and trading system would be of greater benefit in my opinion. Nation states must become far more willing to be flexible when it comes to their sovereignty, for example Bangladesh should seriously consider merging with India.

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Sounds like Labour Party policy circa 2004… ;-)

OK: thanks. I’m glad to see that you accept that policy levers are available, and should be used. The choice between cap’n’trade and tax is not perhaps as clear cut as you make it. Taxes are set by governments, and are vulnerable to incorrect settings, whereas cap and trade systems do utilise a market system to set fair value. Both can be rorted at various points in the process.

What degree of international cooperation do you see being required? This is, after all, a problem with a global commons, and requires a global solution. I think you have to work with the grain of international relations — and that means using existing structures where possible, and accepting that for all sorts of historical reasons, Bangladesh ain’t going to merge with India any time soon — at least not until the Bangladeshis demolish the fence India’s built on the border.

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm

The problem as I see it Gareth is that many in the Climate change Activist camp are making common cause with those people who are actively working against international mechanisms which would facilitate the co-operation necessary. The WTO is a good example of an international body which has been set up to regulate trade between nations yet it is virilently opposed by anti-globalisation protestors who have views similar to Mr Derber. This is not helpful tin my opinion as we need more mechanism that enable nations to resolve international issues not less.

I agree that there are political issues to work through with potential solutions like merging Bangladesh with India. However I think these issues are much easier to sort out than attempting to re-engineer human society as some suggest we HAVE to do. Remember before 1971 there was no independent nation of Bangladesh and it is essentially an artificial Political construct caused by Religious differences.

Phil Scadden February 16, 2010 at 8:03 pm

All good suggestions. I agree that carbon pricing schemes need to be either worldwide to be effective. For US, (and India) a very cheap option is simply remove all subsidies on petroleum and coal.

And no. I dont think Gosman is a troll at all. I appreciate his contribution to the discussions.

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I think I disagree with you about the “common cause” aspects, Gosman – beyond accepting the obvious “youth is/should be radical” angle. There are people who would argue, for instance, that international carbon pricing rules that ensure a level playing field between nations (various forms of tariffs or other mechanisms) are not compatible with WTO rules. My response is pretty simple: change the WTO rules. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be efforts to ensure fair trade, but as many have noted that’s not necessarily the same thing as totally free trade.

tomfarmer February 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Interesting Title – the book! Post colon a throwback to subtitling content purpose or intent.

Pre colon likely thematic and/or debate worthy. Looking at the comments here certainly has me say that that worked.

Re Gosman could s/he succinctly expose the “realist” bit. Realist as to what is achievable or realist what is needed..?

Kim, taking a “grip” for your goodself might reside in let’s say Lord – MLM – Monkton — more totemic than polemic is the fellow’s CON-fidence. And Aussie so MLM-ified. Love you make my day and prove me wrong!

Kim February 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Tomfarmer, Do you mind re-writing that so it makes sense? Thanks

AGW-Denier February 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

“He recounts the terrible difficulty he had, after realising with despair the seriousness of climate change, in dealing emotionally with the prospect of mass, collective death – “more difficult than dealing with my own personal death”

Oh puleeease! My heart bleeds. I’m reaching for my violin.

I mean really, do you guys ever wonder if you’ve backed the wrong horse?

Check this out:

The Jig is Up! Climategate U-turn as Phil Jones admits: There has been no global warming since 1995 — Concedes possibility that world was warmer in medieval times

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Climategate-U-turn-Astonishment-scientist-centre-global-warming-email-row-admits-data-organised.html?ITO=1490

‘World may not be warming, say scientists’ — UN IPCC ‘faces a new
challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably’ – - ‘Popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land
development’ — ‘IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialisation and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias’
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7026317.ece

Hebrew University Scientists publish study in Nature: ‘AGW is refuted’ — ‘Claims that carbon emissions permanently increase global temperature are false’ ‘Because the greenhouse effect is temporary rather than permanent, predictions of significant global warming in the 21st century by IPCC arenot supported by the data’ More info here.
http://economics.huji.ac.il/facultye/beenstock/Nature_Paper091209.pdf

Reuters on UN IPCC Train wreck: ‘Admitting yet another flaw’: UN climate panel admits sea level flaws

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61C1V420100213

bennion February 15, 2010 at 10:47 pm

What do Greens, Gordon Brown, the Pentagon, Bill Gates, Senator Lindsey Graham have in common?

Bloody hippies.

Gareth February 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Can I get in the list too, please?

RW February 16, 2010 at 7:24 am

AGW-Denier: so you can quote links. Here’s one for you.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling.htm

Dappledwater February 16, 2010 at 7:35 am

“The Jig is Up! Climategate U-turn as Phil Jones admits: There has been no global warming since 1995 — Concedes possibility that world was warmer in medieval times” – AGW Denier

Really?.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm

Phil Jones: “There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.
We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere.”

Wow, another denier lie. Shocking.

“Popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land” – AGW Denier

Yeah, local factors all over the world, otherwise known as global warming. And the Times relies upon known delusionists, John Christy, Ross Mcitrick & Whats up with Watts???. Rational people understand what this implies:

http://nsidc.org/sotc/glacier_balance.html

And what happens when the satellite record is compared to the surface temperature record?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/Satellite_Temperatures.png

Yup, same warming trend. You’d expect Christy would know better considering his involvement with the UAH.

Dappledwater February 16, 2010 at 7:50 am

“Hebrew University Scientists publish study in Nature: ‘AGW is refuted’ — ‘Claims that carbon emissions permanently increase global temperature are false’ ‘Because the greenhouse effect is temporary rather than permanent” – AGW denier

You know what kook science is?. You just cited it.

” Reuters on UN IPCC Train wreck: ‘Admitting yet another flaw’: UN climate panel admits sea level flaws” – AGW denier

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/ipcc-errors-facts-and-spin/

Sea level in the Netherlands: The WG2 report states that “The Netherlands is an example of a country highly susceptible to both sea-level rise and river flooding because 55% of its territory is below sea level”. This sentence was provided by a Dutch government agency – the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which has now published a correction stating that the sentence should have read “55 per cent of the Netherlands is at risk of flooding; 26 per cent of the country is below sea level, and 29 per cent is susceptible to river flooding”. It surely will go down as one of the more ironic episodes in its history when the Dutch parliament last Monday derided the IPCC, in a heated debate, for printing information provided by … the Dutch government”

Very funny.

Bryan Walker February 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

AGW-denier:
“Oh puleeease! My heart bleeds. I’m reaching for my violin.”

I very much appreciated Derber’s frankness about the despair evoked in him by the realisation of the seriousness of climate change, particularly because it centred not on his own death but on “the grim possibility that future generations will be caught up in brutal struggles for survival and that it might not be better to be a survivor.”

It can be difficult to express to others that this is how one feels in response to climate change. It can sound like an embarrassing intrusion into civilised discourse. I often find myself struggling to find an acceptable way to express an existential concern. Full marks to Derber, I thought, for owning up to the depth of his feelings.

It wasn’t an immobilising despair, obviously. He reports one of his responses being that he wanted to act, and he has since then spent a lot more time, as a teacher and author, speaking and writing about climate change. The other response was to want to deny but as he is “relatively immune to the seductions of the denial industry” he couldn’t find any solace there. You evidently can, AGW denier. Dappledwater’s comments on your sources may help indicate why others of us can’t.

Rob Taylor February 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Here’s a Frank Zappa song from the ’60s for AGW-denier and his ilk:

IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE

It can’t happen here
It can’t happen here
I’m telling you, my dear
That it can’t happen here
Because I been checkin’ it out, baby
I checked it out a couple a times, hmmmmmmmm

And I’m telling you
It can’t happen here
Oh darling, it’s important that you believe me
(bop bop bop bop)
That it can’t happen here…

Everybody’s safe and it can’t happen here
No freaks for us
It can’t happen here
Everybody’s clean and it can’t happen here
No, no, it won’t happen here
I’m telling you it can’t
It won’t happen here
(bop bop didi bop didi bop bop bop)
Plastic folks, you know
It won’t happen here
You’re safe, mama
You’re safe, baby
You just cook a tv dinner
And you make it
(bop bop bop)
No no no no
Oh, we’re gonna get a tv dinner and cook it up
Go get a tv dinner and cook it up
Cook it up
Oh, and it won’t happen here
(no no no no no no no no no no no)
Man you guys are really safe
Everything’s cool…

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Full marks for the Zappa reference. Just don’t post Dina Mo Hum.

Rob Taylor February 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I’m a “Mud Shark” fan, myself

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Stinkfoot… it puts a hurt on my nose. (The poodle bites, the poodle chews it).

And at this point I call OT.

Mr February February 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Is Gosman a Troll?

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

That last comment was very Troll like Mr February as you have added nothing to the debate and just engaged in an ad hominem attack on myself without justification.

Troll’s don’t tend to engage in reasoned discussion whereas I have attempted to answer any questions posed to me by anyone.

Or is your definition of a Troll merely someone who doesn’t hold your particular viewpoint?

Gareth February 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

No, not a troll: he’s capable of intelligent discourse. (See above).

Rob Taylor February 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Is that because he’s Intelligently Designed? Or is that just Ian Wishart?

tomfarmer February 16, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Kim.

excuse me, I have to say I mind. Not much time. Besides I have to presume you mean “sense” to you. And what I was driving at was how the traditional political stuff was/is pretty much what anti-science (on AGW etc) want. Distraction. More pointed would be to follow the money. MLM = multi-level marketing aka taking its distributors for a ride (or to the cleaners). Distributors in this context being both perpetrators and purveyors of do nothing on climate change because their playmasters shall continue to make it big time.
Hope this will suffice, sorry if I was asking too much of you.. best

Macro February 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Gosman
“The WTO is a good example of an international body which has been set up to regulate trade between nations yet it is virilently opposed by anti-globalisation protestors”
And with good cause mostly. The outcomes of the WTO policies are almost always pro-corporates, pro-multinationals, pro-USA, and most definitely anti-people. It’s hard to think of one good outcome from these people who are appointed by governments to further their own ends and little more.
I’m sorry but “business as usual”
IS NOT AN OPTION.
You know the graphs!!

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm

One question for you Macro on the WTO.

If a developing country has a problem with getting fair access to developed countries markets for something they make extremely well and that large parts of their economy depend on, how do you suggest they resolve this problem?

Macro February 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Well don’t ask the WTO! They are simply the puppets of corporates and multinationals who in turn pay for the elections of the governments who installed the trade barriers in the first place. eg USA and its subsidized grain farmers.
And if you do ask the WTO, expect there to be so many delaying tactics, so administratively intricate in practice, that the initial problem is history when its finally attended to if at all. eg NZ apples to Australia.

Gosman February 16, 2010 at 10:00 pm

So you don’t have an answer then?

Macro February 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Yes I gave you an answer. The problem with a body such as the WTO however is that it has been hijacked by people with too many vested interests or fundamental economic ideologies who perceive the world from a completely different perspective to the very people they are supposed to serve. There are attempts to create “balance” I agree, but the process of appointment to these positions is far too dominated by “political” interest – in the recent past from the Western Right.
The other factor to consider is that the WTO has very little power over large nations anyway – vis China, USA who snub their noses at many a WTO determination.
But this is off topic – The matter in hand is what sort of economic structure will best meet the challenges of GW and what can we do about it? In my opinion and I agree with Derber, a steady state economy is in the first step. That will require a redistribution of wealth if the poor are not to be forgotten. (I might point out at this stage – that I do not count myself in that category, so I am not arguing from the standpoint of one who has missed out. Life and fortune has treated me fairly well.) You should bear in mind that a growth in GDP does not necessarily mean a growth in living standards for the majority – or indeed a growth in the actual real “wealth” of a nation – many costs, for instance, are not taken into account in calculating GDP – the costs to the nation of clearing up polluted waterways, cleaning up mining, paying for Carbon pollution, costs of dumping steel and other extractable materials in landfills, costs of disfunctional families when both parents are forced to work long hours to maintain a “home”. All costs eventually born by the state – but unaccounted for in GDP. An economy based on growth is one that ultimately is bound to fail. Unfortunately it is primarily the only economy that is taught in our schools and universities, so people know no other. It is a false economy and has many fundamental flaws, logically, scientifically, ethically, and mathematically. To put our trust in it as many do is to worship a false god that will fail us.

Gosman February 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm

You didn’t answer my question about what a small nation could do to try and resolve a trade dispute with a larger one though Macro.

If there is no WTO then there isn’t much it can do. The WTO at least provided a mechanism that allowed the smallest least powerful nations to bring the more powerful ones to task for unfair trade practices.

All your comments about the WTO are not arguments against the concept of the WTO but are just pointing out flaws in how it is currently opperating. I could equally highlight to you multiple flaws in the UN which has the larger nations running rough shod over basic principles. Does this mean that you think the UN should be ditched as well?

Macro February 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Where have I said that the WTO should be ditched?
I am merely pointing out why are people protesting about it. They are protesting because it is NOT doing the job that it is set up to do. Yes the UN fails in some of its obligations too, and yes it needs to do better in some instances as well.

Phil Scadden February 17, 2010 at 7:50 am

Gosman, you are anti- foreign aid, but surely there is an equity issue here. One obvious outcome from continued GW would be flooding and salt incursion into a number of large, heavily populated and farmed river delta systems in underdeveloped countries. At 3-4mm/yr it has the appearance of being manageable. But at 8-10mm/year? The usual “adaptation” solution is dutch-style barrier systems, the scale of which would be mind-boggling. The alternative would be resettlement of large no. of people. Does the West pay (or take the people)? Is this still aid in your books?

Gosman February 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I’m not adverse to capital transfers to developing countries, just not how it is currently done via international development aid.

If you frame this problem of sea level rise caused by AGW in legalistic terms it is similar to a property dispute where one party has potentially caused damage to another party as a result of their actions. If the international legal system was reformed this would allow agrieved parties to seek damages.

Ideally people, (including entire nations), should be far more willing, and far more able, to move. One solution for developing countries faced with loss of land to rising sea levels would be to sell the threatened bits to someone who might be able to afford to protect it, or use it for something else. Land could then be bought for any displaced people in some other location.

You might say that it is not possible to do this but frankly the problem is one of political rigidity. Prior to the end of the Second world war whole nations used to up and move thousands of kilometers on a regular basis.

Phil Scadden February 17, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I’m happier with the legalistic approach.
“One solution for developing countries faced with loss of land to rising sea levels would be to sell the threatened bits to someone who might be able to afford to protect it, or use it for something else. “
So I am profligate with water on lawn, garden, swimming pool, and which runs off onto my poor neighbour whose back yard is ruined. I then offer to buy his backyard at rock-bottom price (no use to him) because I can afford drainage and he cant. This sounds like capitalism at its worst. You need the “my fault, my cost” bit as well. Okay perhaps if land value reflected its value before inundation/salt poisoning.

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 8:16 am

That is why I stated the the international legal system needs reform so those negatively impacted by the effects of Climate Change can seek damages.

Rob Taylor February 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm

On no, Gosman, you mentioned the War… however, you failed to mention that when “Prior to the end of the Second world war whole nations used to up and move thousands of kilometers on a regular basis”, it was at the point of a gun.

Check out the Crimean Tartars and the Chechens under Stalin, not to mention the following example carried out by our friends and allies (the UK and US)…

“In the 1960s, the Chagos archipelago was secretly leased to the United Kingdom and detached from Mauritius with the intention of expelling its entire population and establishing a military base. In 1971 the United Kingdom and United States entered an agreement under which the latter would set up a military base in Diego Garcia.

Since then, the United Kingdom enforced the highly controversial depopulation of Diego Garcia, forcing the deportation of all 2,000 inhabitants of the island, who were descendants of African slaves and Hindu labourers brought to the islands by the French in the 18th century, to the surrounding islands, including Mauritius, located 1,200 miles away. In their place, a joint British-American military base was established.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Garcia

Gosman February 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm

“…you failed to mention that when “Prior to the end of the Second world war whole nations used to up and move thousands of kilometers on a regular basis”, it was at the point of a gun.”

While there was a lot of forced movements before, during, and after the Second World War (as well as other wars) there have been a lot of mass movements of people that were caused by something other than force of arms. Take the Voortrekers moving out of the Cape Colony in the early part of the 19th Century as an example.

Settler Colonisation is essentially voluntary mass movement of an entire culture. The only difference between this and what might be necessary because of Climate Change is that the original ‘Homeland’ is no longer under the control of the particular migrating culture. I see no problem with this at all do you?

During the last years of the 2nd Century B.C.E. the Roman Republic was confronted by a large group of migrating Germans who apparently left their homes in the Jutland Pennisular (Modern Denmark) due to flooding caused by rising Sea levels. The World managed to cope with these at the time and I see no reason why we can’t solve the challenges of future mass migrations.

Rob Taylor February 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Gosman, the colonised peoples on the sharp end of your “voluntary mass movement of an entire culture”, such as the Native Americans, Zulu and Maori were forced into submission by superior weapon systems, such as the musket and Gatling gun.

I am interested in how you envisage this working today, between say, Pakistan and India, both nuclear-armed…

Also, what role do you see for our own country, which will be very desirable real estate indeed – will you welcome a mass movement of climate refugees? What of those who bring their navies to “assist in negotiations”?

Gosman February 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Ummmm… you are quite wrong, at least when we are talking about the initial stages of colonisation.

Take the New Zealand experience. Many Maori didn’t have a problem with European Settlement, in fact it was thought to be very mana enhancing to have a few European traders living in your particular location. Even large scale settlement was acceptable as it enabled them to sell goods and services in return for gaining access to modern technologies. They could also see the benefit of having the protection of a powerful nation like the United Kingdom. That is why so many Maori supported signing the Treaty of Waitangi. The problem arose when the Settlers became so established that they wished to move into areas that were previously the domain of the Maori. Hence why there were more conflicts in the late 1840′s and through to the 1860′s rather than during the early stages of settlement here.

If you take a look at other nations you will see a very similar pattern. European Settlement was initially accepted as neutral or even beneficial in many places. The first Thanksgiving was actually because the local Native Americans gave food to the Pilgrims to stop them starving. It was only after the Settlers became established and started demanding more land that conflict really started.

Dappledwater February 17, 2010 at 11:31 pm

“That is why so many Maori supported signing the Treaty of Waitangi.” – Gosman

Nonsense. Maori were lead to believe they would still have sovereignty over the land. They were mislead.

“you take a look at other nations you will see a very similar pattern. European Settlement was initially accepted as neutral or even beneficial in many places.” – Gosman

Yeah, until the wholesale slaughter of the indigenous people and theft of their land and resources:

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/01/11/the-holocaust-we-will-not-see/

tomfarmer February 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Rob Taylor,

fyi we have the Saudi negotiator ( Al-Sabban) on record @ AP at a conference in Jeddah.. a little more hopeful on the realities I think, though I’m still unhappy the ransome potential mentioned earlier. Among other things it affords a sort of wind-down-to-other-options gearing at too many others’ expense.

Rob Taylor February 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Thanks, Tom, I appreciate your perspective. Interesting to see that the Saudis are moving from denial to realism and looking to post-oil revenues, including solar.

Their problem is that they have enslaved half their population and thus miss out on a staggering amount of human potential…

Rob Taylor February 17, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Correct, Gosman, but that was then, this is now.

Do you think the Chinese and the Indonesians will be content to just sit and starve as their agriculture and aquaculture collapse? How many millions of Asia-Pacific refugees will you welcome with open arms?

I suggest you read “Climate Wars” to get a feel for how things could get very nasty, very fast.

http://www.amazon.com/Climate-Wars-Gwynne-Dyer/dp/1921372222/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266395062&sr=1-7

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

I take it then that you are supportive of having a strong military in NZ and strengthening mutual Defence ties with like minded countries.

Noone has any clear idea what will happen regarding food production in the next few years. I do know that in large parts of the world Agricultural production is incredibly inefficient at this point in time (Most notably in Africa and areas of Russia and Eastern Europe).

Phil Scadden February 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

I’d feel a lot safer if we reduced emissions to point where rapid climate change didn’t push people into wars of desperation. Not to mention being a hell of more just and arguably cheaper.

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 9:48 am

The definition of ‘Just’ is a matter of one’s individual politics. The Communist bloc rulers believed that they had a ‘Just’ system prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. The problem was that the majority of people who lived under such a system didn’t like their particular vision of ‘Justness’

Phil Scadden February 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

I am working with my understanding of “just”. If pushing people to desperation by your choices is “just” for you then so be it. I will still go with the opinion that its safer and cheaper not to do so.

tomfarmer February 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

Heck Gosman, pay tell how..

I take it then that you are supportive of having a strong military in NZ and strengthening mutual Defence ties with like minded countries.

.. is in any way shape or form, sufficient to the task hypothesized above?

BTW: Defense ties with the like-minded supposes one big assist when the little joker ally asks for it. One you appear not to get, however, is how the biggies cost out spending others’ lives. Including ours..

Earlier I’d asked you spell out your “reality”. So far you have ignored my request. Now I’ll say don’t bother, the wait and you have made the answer/s obvious.

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Do you mean when you asked the following?

“Re Gosman could s/he succinctly expose the “realist” bit. Realist as to what is achievable or realist what is needed..?”

I thought the answer to that was self evident and hence why I didn’t respond. It is obviously what is achievable. What is ‘needed’ depends on your personal perspective.

If you want to waste time and effort attempting to achieve something that isn’t achievable go ahead, just don’t expect my support in this futile endeavour.

As for the bit about a strong NZ Military I didn’t follow the point you were trying to make. Maybe you could clarify your position on this.

tomfarmer February 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

there’s no edit here, so oops! the word should have been pray.

Phil Scadden February 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Gosman, so your “realist” position is that global agreement on GHG reduction is not possible; major damage is inevitable and so lets strengthen the military to repel the desperate?

The despairing part of me says you could well be right – political action is being badly limited by denialist PR influencing the electorate. No matter how well intentioned and informed a government is, a democracy has a lot of difficulty producing change against a hostile electorate (as it should).

The more hopeful part of me says you have to keep trying to educate the electorate and perhaps hope that when the damage is beyond denial, it is also not beyond us to limit it. I wonder how far that has to be before like say Mikh or AGW-denier concede that action is necessary? Or perhaps hope that oil production difficulties produce a price-driven move to alternatives. Not that hopeful on that one.

Rob Taylor February 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Gosman, based on recent events, some of those “like-minded countries” we are allied to are just as likely to annex us for their own interests, as they are to “protect” us from others!

http://www.truthout.org/democracy-and-threat-authoritarianism-politics-beyond-barack-obama56890

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm

What recent events suggest we are going to be annexed by anybody?

Has there been a recent example of a country being annexed then? I must have missed that in the news. Perhaps you would be kind enough to direct me to the relevant article?

Rob Taylor February 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Gosman, where have you been this last decade? I am, of course, referring to the jacked-up invasion and occupation of Iraq, which just happened to have the world’s 2nd-largest untapped oil reserves.

You may also like to consider the example of Diego Garcia and Hawaii, both of which are strategically located and were taken from their inhabitants to join the archipelago of US military bases around the world.

IMHO, in a 4 C world, the ability to grow food will be as important as the ability to pump oil. The US, China and the Aussies will all suffer major desertification of their agricultural areas and I think it may be a race to see who “liberates” us first…

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Was Iraq annexed? Of course it wasn’t. Stop being overly dramatic and simply rehashing leftist propaganda.

The Iraqi government, (democratically elected it must be stated) is in charge of what happens to the Iraqi oil supplies at this point in time.

What evidence do you have that the price of oil or it’s supply has been manipulated to the US advantage by the US occupation of Iraq?Given the fact the price of oil spiked dramatically AFTER the US invasion and the Iraqi government still has the control of their Oil industry I would say your whole argument is based on unsubstantiated opinion.

Your argument is like trying to claim the US ‘controls’ the oil that the Saudis pump from their wells. If this was true then the US Government wouldn’t have so much probelms with getting the Saudis to lower the price of the stuff.

I think you are mistaking the (understandable) desire of nations for stability and security of oil supplies with a country wishing to take CONTROL of oil production in another country. There is a huge differece between the two.

Phil Scadden February 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I think I am so illiterate in politics because debates so quickly become dominated by both sides trying to fit history and current global situation into a chosen narrative. There are good points on both sides but I find it a bit speculative.

I think the effects of rapid climate-change raises the risk of war but I don’t think anyone is able to say much beyond that. Surely any actual war is a collusion of multiple factors? I would opine that people who dont have much to live for are easily persuaded by someone giving them a dream to die for. As one commentator stated – the average french-Canadian can get pretty heated about separatism – but not enough to risk 2 cars, house and a holiday home starting insurgency. Is that too speculative? Am I pushing my own narrative?

A good global agreement to bring emissions down lowers this risk (as would a 100 other measures). Gosman – did I misrepresent your views on realism?

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I completely agree that a good global agreement to bring emissions down would lower the risk of international tension leading to armed conflict. The trouble is working out exactly what global agreement is both ‘good’ and achievable. A bad agreement might in fact cause more problems in the short term.

Rob Taylor February 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

You raise a variety of straw men, Gosman, but ignore that countries rich in resources or strategically located are prone to sudden “changes of management” imposed from outside by regional or global hegemons.

Why should NZ be any different in a heat-, water- and food-stressed world?

Or, come to think of it, Canada?

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Of course any country is potentially prone to sudden “changes of management” imposed from outside, moreso if they are deemed strategically important by other nations. Your argument however was that this has happened in the recent past most notably in Iraq.

I disagree that the motivations for the invasion of Iraq was as simplistic as a straight resource grab. Certainly the evidence on the ground subsequent to the invasion suggest it wasn’t very successful if this was it’s goal for the reasons outlined.

While it is always a possibility that some country like the US might decide to invade to gain access to any resources we have I think it is highly unlikely it would do so given the geo-political and economic constraints. The Iraqi war has cost the US taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars for little, or no benefit. It is much easy to gain what you want now via international trade and diplomacy than using force.

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm

As for Diego Garcia and Hawaii I think you will find that the annexation of these places took place well over a hundred years ago when this sort of activity was regarded as acceptable behaviour. The people of Diego Garcia may have been forceably relocated within living memory but again this is not something that was unusual for the time and is even acceptable, (to an extent) nowdays. Even the NZ Government can forceably require the removal of people from a particular location for various reasons deemed in the public interest. Whether or not the removal of the people of Diego Garcia was in the public interest is a matter of debate.

Rob Taylor February 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Of course, it all depends on who defines “the public interest”, just as one group’s “terrorist” is another group’s “freedom fighter” and “liberation” so often translates as “genocide”…

In a climate-troubled world, many activities will, I suspect, again become “acceptable” – just as torture has (at least, that is, when carried out by “our side”).

http://www.truthout.org/cheney-admits-war-crimes-media-yawns-obama-turns-other-cheek56924

Gosman February 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm

While possible it would require the complete breakdown of the UN system which is unlikely at this stage.

BTW I don’t think I know of any civilised society in history that has invaded another because they don’t have enough food to feed themselves. I am aware of numerous societies forced to migrate as a result of environmental and/or pollitical disruption but they tend to be the porrer sections of the world’s population.

Rob Taylor February 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Gosman, “civilised society” is itself the product of a food surplus and is unlikely to survive the new climate. For a preview, look to Darfur.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3241362.ece

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