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Comment on Tinkering till the end of time

rene Mon, Oct 26, 2009
The problem raised above is that Al Gore, Bill McKibben and other environmental activists invariably cast the great issues of our time, like climate change, as apocalyptic catastrophes in the making.

For example, in his book “The End of Nature, ” Bill McKibben warns us that
with respect to our environment we have already done everything wrong as we have altered the earth’s atmosphere to our lasting detriment.

Last Saturday, McKibben rallied 4,300 demonstrators, from the Himalaya's to the Great Barrier Reef, all centered around the number 350, which is the upper limit for heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million. If the gas concentration exceeds that for much longer, the planet will be in the throes of floods, droughts and famine. The current concentration is 387 parts per million. However, there are many voices who, like John M. Reilly of MIT, warn that "three-fifty is so impossible to achieve that to make it the goal risks the reaction that if we are already over the cliff, then let's just enjoy the ride until it's over."

Which is of course exactly what we have been doing for years. A colleague of Nasa scientist James E Hansen who first warned the world about global warming a few decades ago, puts it like this in the New York Times: ...those promoting 350 or debating the number might be missing the point. The situation is analogous to people trying to embark on a cross-country road trip to California, but they've started off heading to Maine instead. But instead of working out ways to turn around, they have decided to argue about where they are going to park when they get to LA. If you ask a scientist how much more CO2 do you think we should add to the atmosphere, the answer is going to be none."

Much as I admire Bill McKibben as a writer, I'm clearly not the only one who feels paralyzed by his message that we should "hope against hope" that we'll achieve the impossible milestone of 350 fast enough...by impressing upon our leaders to assume the moral obligation to match their actions to the science..."

Clearly, I applaud the fact that some people are at least trying to do something...but I refuse to believe that this is the best we can do! Just one photograph of a group of naked kids running away from a napalm attack was a turning point in the Vietnam war,
and one simple logo to revive New York City from the doldrums in the '70s and again after 9/11.

The point is that with all due respect for the Bill McKibben's and the Al Gore's of the world, besides disconcerting fear, their message simply lacks emotion. Anyone to make history by devicing a campaign for climate change that actually works?