October 2, 2006

Political inaction on climate change a crime against humanity

I just finished reading Jamais Cascio's excellent new column, "The Geoengineering Option," in which he argues that terraforming the planet may be a necessary evil to combat the effects of global warming. Cascio writes, "The early examination of options we’d rather not use is vital. If the climate collapses faster than expected, or if our efforts fail (or are blocked by recalcitrant leaders), we will see people desperate for survival trying out these kinds of last-ditch solutions." He offers a number of potential options:
...blocking a fraction of incoming sunlight with a giant mirror in space: using genetically-engineered plants and microbes to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane at a faster-than-natural rate; seeding the atmosphere with fine particles to reflect sunlight away; dumping iron into the oceans to stimulate the growth of carbon dioxide-devouring plankton; and more. None of these would be done easily, or cheaply; quite possibly, none of these could be done effectively, or without grossly negative results (for example, a too-large plankton bloom has the potential to render parts of the ocean sterile).
Cascio is right to note that we should be aware of our options in the event our environment go to the shits, and he's also right to note that these interventions are radical and have the potential to be disastrous. Re-working an autonomous system like the Earth's biosphere is a task of exquisite complexity that is quite beyond our current know-how.

Which leads me to the point I wish to make.

The evidence for anthrogenic climate change is now incontrovertible, as is the realization that this is the greatest catastrophe to ever confront our species. The time to act is now. Governments need to put measures into place that will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible.

Moreover, given all the evidence to support global warming, I believe it is time to issue a warning and a threat to all ruling politicians around the world: you will be held accountable. At this time of crisis, your inaction as elected and accountable leaders in the face of obvious looming catastrophe will be held against you.

Barring the onset of real and effective measures, once the flood waters start to rise, the mass extinctions enter into full swing, the superstorms start to hit with regularity, and diseases and famines start to ravage populations, it will be necessary to gather all former politicians to make them answer for their reckless disregard while they were in power. Inaction today is nothing less than a crime against humanity and a crime against the environment.

These days politics has mutated into a sad and pathetic game where the only thing that matters is politicking, pandering to the ruling elites, and taking advantage of the complacent masses. It’s time that politicians actually start to lead instead of worrying about their fate in the next election.

Otherwise, they’ll have to start worrying about a different kind of fate altogether.

4 comments:

Chris said...

I think we need a new category of criminality, the Crime Against Life. Unfortunately the Crime Against Humanity doesn't even begin to describe the damage already being caused by global warming.

Or, the "Global Warming Scare" as they call it on the right wing political sites.

Jamais Cascio said...

How about "Crime Against the Planet?"

Either way, I look forward to the show trials.

Igor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Igor said...

The evidence for anthrogenic climate change is now incontrovertible.

Let's be precise: the evidence that anthropogenic factors affect climate change is incontrovertible, yes.

But presenting it like humans are the sole source of it - that's a gross mistake, for the simple reason that the climate was always changing - for eons before humans - from global warmings to ice ages and back.

Did those non-human factors cease working as soon as we started burning fossil fuels? Of course not! So, human factors are just another additional ingredients to the mix.

As for how big is the anthropogenic part in comparison to the "natural" factors - it's unclear, because no one knows what are those "natural" factors. There are a lot of theories, but, generally speaking, it's unclear why the climate changed before humans.

Even when speaking about our influence on the climate - only CO2 emission is more or less understood. As for other factors: deforestation, agriculture, solid particles emissions, etc - no one knows.

On the other hand: as we now know that:
a) the climate is changing
b) we(humans) affect the climate

then - yes, with this knowledge, the inaction seems to constitute a crime.

I just want to be (as a transhumanist!) scientifically correct in discussing the matters.

========
ah, let's just forget about climate. Do you really think that any government would start scratching before it's too late ? pleeeezeee....

I think the best strategy would be to concentrate efforts on achieving transition to trans- and post- stages. Once we are there - the climate change would be irrelevant.