Boy, was Schwarzenegger aces on climate change!
Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone rues a lost opportunity:
Until the story about his out-of-wedlock child broke yesterday, Schwarzenegger seemed preparing himself for a new, high-profile role in the energy and climate fight, perhaps as the head of a think tank or advocacy group. Now, who knows? The script now requires an suitable interval for penance. It pisses me off that Schwarzengger’s personal life is getting in the way of his larger, and far more important, public mission. But that’s the way things go in America. It’s so much easier to gossip about Arnold’s sins than face our own ““ like the fact that we are cooking the planet with fossil fuels.
Arnold admits to a deception of stunning proportion and Goodell is pissed that people are clucking over that instead of lashing themselves for their fossil fuel dependent lives.
A former Republican governor from a conservative state who is now considering a run for President is….get ready for it..vouching for climate science and not denying the existence of global warming. Shocking! Unbelievable!
He also must not be seriously thinking he can win the GOP nomination.
Here’s the excerpt of Jon Huntsman’s interview with Time magazine:
You also believe in climate change, right?
This is an issue that ought to be answered by the scientific community; I’m not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them. I respect science and the professionals behind the science so I tend to think it’s better left to the science community ““ though we can debate what that means for the energy and transportation sectors.
But on the outside chance this bit of Republican blasphemy can be tolerated, Huntstman is towing the party line on cap-and-trade. Here’s the rest of the climate-related exchange:
Matt [David, Huntsman's communications director,] says you’ve changed your mind about cap-and-trade.
Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment.
Will it ever be the moment, though? The environment never takes priority because it never seems like something has to be addressed this quarter or else, but if you look at what’s happening to our planet”¦
If anyone knows about the need to clean up the planet, we do; we’ve been living somewhere [Beijing] where you feel like you’re killing your kids sending them out to school every day. But putting additional burdens on the pillars of growth right now is counter-productive. If we have a lost decade, then nothing else matters. Ask Japan about that.
Ah, the lost decade. Sounds like the 60s. Speaking of Chinese air pollution, I wonder if that had as much as anything to do with Huntsman returning to the U.S. I wouldn’t want my kids breathing that foul air, either. I’m already at war with idling trucks in my neighborhood.
One of these days, I’m going to figure out a way to talk about “global change,” not just climate change. You know, because it’s such a catchy term that rolls off the tongue.
Sarcasm aside, to lots of smart people, “global change” is where the serious action is at. Right now. As Jonathan Foley wrote two years ago in Yale Environment 360:
I worry about this collective fixation on global warming as the mother of all environmental problems. Learning from the research my colleagues and I have done over the past decade, I fear we are neglecting another, equally inconvenient truth: that we now face a global crisis in land use and agriculture that could undermine the health, security, and sustainability of our civilization.
Of course, you can’t just dwell on impending ecological ruin any more than you can dwell on imminent climate doom. It’s a bummer. And like melting ice sheets and rising seas, the planetary ecosystem-wide problems underlying “global change” are abstract, immense and no competition for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
That said, last year a useful framework articulating the interconnected challenges was laid out in the abstract of this essay in Science:
Tremendous progress has been made in understanding the functioning of the Earth system and, in particular, the impact of human actions. Although this knowledge can inform management of specific features of our world in transition, societies need knowledge that will allow them to simultaneously reduce global environmental risks while also meeting economic development goals. For example, how can we advance science and technology, change human behavior, and influence political will to enable societies to meet targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change? At the same time, how can we meet needs for food, water, improved health and human security, and enhanced energy security? Can this be done while also meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring ecosystem integrity?
Those are mighty tall tasks, but that’s why there are conferences like the Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability, which is happening this week in Stockholm, Sweden.
Interestingly, I noticed in the description of the conference that the connective thread of the agenda is climate change:
This third Nobel Laureate Symposium, which follows from previous meetings in Potsdam and London, will focus on the need for integrated approaches that deal with the synergies, conflicts and trade-offs between the individual components of climate change.
Climate change, decreasing biodiversity, deteriorating ecosystems, poverty and a continuously growing population all contribute to reducing the planet’s resilience and may have catastrophic implications for humanity.
Each of these problems has attracted great attention from the international community, but they have invariably been considered in isolation, with little or no regard to the interactions between them.
It is time to change this approach.
I agree. But I’m not sure putting humanity on trial is the best starting point.
The conference comes on the heels of this meeting in London, and is organized around three main themes: the dominant role of humans as a planetary force of change; the societal/ecological relationship; and the potential for large-scale sustainability solutions.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the conference, but what happens afterward, when all the scientists and luminaries retreat to their separate silos, is what matters most.