The Climate Easter Bunny Fable

By Keith Kloor | July 30, 2011 8:27 am

Here’s some straight talk on climate politics:

A facile explanation would focus on the ‘merchants of doubt’ who have managed to confuse the public about the reality of human-made climate change.  The merchants play a role, to be sure, a sordid one, but they are not the main obstacle to solution of human-made climate change.

The bigger problem is that people who accept the reality of climate change are not proposing actions that would work.  This is important, because as Mother Nature makes climate change more obvious, we need to be moving in directions within a framework that will minimize the impacts and provide young people a fighting chance of stabilizing the situation.

And from the same essay, some straight talk on energy:

Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future?  It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway.  But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

This Easter Bunny fable is the basis of ‘policy’ thinking of many liberal politicians.  Yet when such people are elected to the executive branch and must make real world decisions, they end up approving expanded off-shore drilling and allowing continued mountaintop removal, long-wall coal mining, hydro-fracking, etc. ““ maybe even a tar sands pipeline.  Why the inconsistency?

Because they realize that renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future and they have no real plan.  They pay homage to the Easter Bunny fantasy, because it is the easy thing to do in politics.  They are reluctant to explain what is actually needed to phase out our need for fossil fuels.

Partisans in the climate concerned community are quick to badmouth or dismiss alternative policy prescriptions that–even if you disagree with these alternative options–are at least honest about the scale of the energy challenge and the geopolitical realities.

In his essay, James Hansen proposes a different path than these guys, but he and they are advancing their respective arguments based on the world as it exists, not on Easter bunny fables.

H/T: Andy Revkin

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Collide-a-Scape

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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