A Crossroads for Climate Advocates

By Keith Kloor | July 31, 2010 8:54 am

One of the most civil and smartest voices in the climate blogosphere belongs to a blog commenter named Paul Kelly. I don’t know who he is. But I’ve always enjoyed reading his contributions to threads, which I’ve mostly seen at Stoat’s or Bart Verheggen’s place. And it is at one of Bart’s recent threads that I’m shamelessly poaching some of Kelly’s comments to highlight in this post.

Kelly, after experiencing yet another long, occasionally nasty back-and-forth with participants from both sides finding no common ground, says to Bart:

This thread is, for me, another illustration of how insistence that climate be the antecedent of action postpones any action.

On his motivations and where he stands:

I’m taking action to spur energy transformation. My reasons are economic and environmental. These reasons and the actions based on them are not affected in any way by climate science or climate concerns.

I do not dispute climate science nor diminish its concerns. I think it is beyond doubt, however, that climate is an impossibly poor basis for policy or the measurement of its success.

Why energy? A lot of us boomers grew up with the promise of 21st century energy transformation. It’s rather exciting that the technology is finally here.

Finally, at the end of the thread, here is Kelly advising one well-known climate commenter (emphasis added):

I’m afraid you’re going to wait a very long time for coordinated worldwide action to decarbonize the global economy. Piecemeal is the reality. That’s not a bad thing. There is no grand globally constructed action for replacing carbon fuels, but it will happen through the aggregate of millions of individual actions.

You hope for some unknown critical mass of people to see the risk you see. After more than twenty years of published science, IPCC and COP, who is yet to be persuaded? The climate concerned are at a crossroads. They must decide if it is more important reach a goal by acceding to others who share their desire for energy transformation but not their climate concerns; or, to win a debate over who’s reason is better.


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets.From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine.In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest.He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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