Who said that dealing with climate change was going to be easy?

Collards and solar panels – author photo

Effective climate action is not going to be easy. The difficulty is more than just a political problem of convincing people to take action. Actually taking action will “hurt the economy.”

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take action anyway! The alternative seems to be destruction of much of the biosphere, and that’s going to “hurt” a lot more. The climate movement needs to acknowledge this. We need to say: “truly effective climate action is going to hurt. We need to do it anyway.” Continue reading “Who said that dealing with climate change was going to be easy?”

What causes climate despair?

Of those surveyed, 3/8 believed they would be displaced by climate change.

Climate despair is real and complex. On Earth Day in 2022, Boulder activist Wynn Bruce set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court. “Burnout is at an all-time high,” says Climate Mobilization. Climate scientist Michael Mann decries “doomism,” while admitting that he himself falls into it at times.

Climate change is a depressing topic to begin with. If you are better informed, you also realize how bad it really is. The result can be climate despair, along with its siblings and cousins that go by many names such as eco-anxiety, climate change helplessness, and doomism. Continue reading “What causes climate despair?”

Embracing Limits—coming on Earth Day!

Embracing Limits cover

My new book, Embracing Limits, will be published on Earth Day this year — April 22, 2023. The ebook version is already available for preorder on Amazon here. The print version is not yet available to order; you’ll have to wait until April 22 for that. Here’s what’s on the back cover:

RADICAL MEASURES ARE NECESSARY

If you’ve ever wondered where we’re headed, and what a truly sustainable future might look like—this is the book for you.
– – – –
Today’s civilization is like a kid with a credit card, thinking the party will never end. Politically speaking, there are no adults in the room. Perhaps there never were. Continue readingEmbracing Limits—coming on Earth Day!”

Debate: Degrowth or Green Growth?

To save the planet, should we seek more economic growth, but just make sure that it respects planetary boundaries (“green growth”)? Or is there no alternative except to decrease total economic activity (“degrowth”)? About two weeks ago there was a fascinating debate on this critical and controversial topic now available on YouTube, which I recommend to everyone interested in what it’s actually going to take to deal with climate change. This is certainly an all-star cast—Jason Hickel, Sam Fankhauser, and Kate Raworth are all committed environmentalists and knowledgeable economists.

What do you think? Please feel free to make comments below. I have a few random thoughts but this isn’t a comprehensive analysis of the debate.

Continue reading “Debate: Degrowth or Green Growth?”

Why divestiture?

One of the more interesting ideas for climate action is the idea of divesting in fossil fuels. If investing in fossil fuels stops or declines, fossil fuel industries will lose money and go out of business, and fewer fossil fuels will be burned. A number of groups and individuals have suggested this strategy.

This is actually an interesting idea because it represents something concrete that we can do. But how is this strategy supposed to work? If we are successful, what does this look like? Continue reading “Why divestiture?”

“Code red for humanity” — what does this even mean?

The High Park Wildfire burns on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland on June 10, 2012. U. S. Forest Service photo (public domain).

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, says that the latest IPCC report is “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” Of course, this is not news for many of us. How should we react to this?

Climate is a well-discussed problem, with a variety of “climate action plans” and a variety of climate groups to choose from. You’d think that we’d have action by now! Why is climate, despite all the attention it has gotten, such a difficult subject? Continue reading ““Code red for humanity” — what does this even mean?”

Life After Fossil Fuels — review

Life After Fossil Fuels: A Reality Check on Alternative Energy. Alice J. Friedemann. Lecture Notes in Energy 81. Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2021.

Most people assume that when fossil fuel use ends, we will probably be living with different types of renewable energy, mostly wind turbines and solar power. Allow Alice Friedemann (engineer, architect, and creator of EnergySkeptic.com), to puncture a few of your illusions.

I loved this book. Probably not everyone will be as nerdy about energy issues as I am, but for me it was just what the doctor ordered. Realistic, humorous, objective, this book is oddly hopeful in an apocalyptic sort of way. Alice Friedemann shows us that there is life after fossil fuels, even after the failure of all our dreams about alternative energy, and as industrial civilization crashes down around us. Continue readingLife After Fossil Fuels — review”

“Livestock and Climate Change” – part 4 (video)

Here are three concluding thoughts (strictly my own opinions) about the reception and impact of “Livestock and Climate Change,” by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang. It’s my opinion that the FAO is now dominated by the livestock industry, that “Livestock and Climate Change” represents only a minimum estimate of greenhouse gases due to livestock agriculture, and that we shouldn’t get distracted by the 51% figure.

“Livestock and Climate Change” – part 1 (video)

“Livestock and Climate Change,” by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, was published in WorldWatch in 2009, and stated that 51% of all anthropogenic greenhouse emissions come from livestock. This is one of the most significant articles written on global warming, even though at this point it’s over a decade old. Many people, including me, have found the article a bit dense to understand, even though as vegans we have an obvious interest in its conclusions. Goodland and Anhang make five points in their article, and this video explains points 1 and 2: overlooked respiration by livestock and overlooked land use.

In defense of drastic moves to curb CO2

This letter to the editor of The Denver Post appeared in today’s paper (February 5, 2021).

Re: “Moves on energy, climate need to be smart,” Jan. 31 letters

Flooding in the US Midwest, 2008. Don Becker, USGS (public domain).

In a recent letter to the editor, someone said that the President’s suspension of oil and gas leases had put him out of business and had failed to stop one CO2 molecule from being released. Good points! To be consistent, we need a “cap-auction-trade” system restricting both the production and consumption of oil. Continue reading “In defense of drastic moves to curb CO2”

Fire Blog 2

Fighting the Pine Gulch Fire. Source:
Bureau of Land Management (public domain)

Colorado is burning, California and Oregon are burning, and the world is burning. The coronavirus pandemic distracted our momentary amazement at the breadth and depth of the Australia fires earlier this year (remember them?). The pandemic was itself a consequence of our fascination with killing and eating animals; it started with eating pangolins, and it’s being spread through slaughterhouses. Now, America is literally on fire. We are destroying animals and trees wholesale and we’re noticing that the air is unhealthy. Continue reading “Fire Blog 2”

Drawdown

Book cover for “Drawdown”

Several years ago, I took a look at the book Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. It has now been turned into a web site, “Project Drawdown,” which several people have recently mentioned to me. It’s a list of proposed solutions to global warming. It is not so much a plan to deal with global warming, but rather strategies that could be integrated into a plan. There are lots of good ideas, including not only the standard ones such as renewable energy, but also including plant-rich diets, forest restoration, bicycle infrastructure, and others.

Approaching global warming in this way looks like an attempt to retrofit sustainability onto our existing system. Is this going to work? Continue reading “Drawdown”

Would economic collapse solve our climate problems?

The devastating Australian wildfires have reinforced the impression that climate change is the world’s number one environmental issue. But the threat of peak oil is also still very real. Fracking is becoming more problematic and difficult to finance; public and private debt is multiplying; and thanks to Donald Trump, political instability threatens to spiral out of control. Gail Tverberg plausibly argues that because of these kinds of problems, we will soon face a recession much worse than the Great Recession — something like a near-term economic collapse.

Would economic collapse mean, at least, that we can relax about climate change, due to greatly reduced industrial activity? Gail Tverberg thinks so. “If the world economy is headed toward near-term collapse, climate change shrinks back in the list of things we should be worried about.” Continue reading “Would economic collapse solve our climate problems?”