3. Climate change
The world situation is much worse than generally acknowledged. This December, the coinciding meetings of NATO and of the climate change Conference of the Parties (COP25) were barely reported, much less analyzed, even though the delegates held the fate of humanity in their hands. To some degree, both meetings are secret, and their unelected delegates are not accountable to the public. COP has met far from the ‘maddening crowd’ ever since the large protests at Copenhagen COP15. NATO provides credibility, flexibility, and anonymity in equal doses and shields member states from legal and political accountability. NATO policy is not to reveal which member state participated in a military operation.1 NATO countries refuse to sign the nuclear ban treaty and now legitimize a nuclear weapons first strike. To judge by the results delegates in both organizations chose to ignore both science and the human situation.
The military is the single largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases, but its emissions are exempt under the Kyoto Protocol, a convenient accomplishment negotiated by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore. In its practice of protecting property and oil installations, in its mandate to kill, and in securitizing borders, the military is also the single largest contributor to climate injustice. The many interconnections between militarization and climate change continue to be overlooked at all COP meetings, by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists, by green new deals, and by climate and anti-war movements. It is hard to understand the silence: anthropogenic climate change and global militarization continue to be driven by political decisions within government and financial institutions. The military’s attribution of violence to victims of climate disasters is used to justify permanent war, militarized borders, global surveillance, and strategies of pacification. Read more …
The great majority of the population in most countries is now aware of global warming and/or some of its effects; the deniers become scarcer as the evidence mounts, discussion proliferates and the older generation drops out of sight. Increasing efforts have been made to address the problem. A very few countries have responded well, at least by the standards applied say a decade ago, and are on route to ending net greenhouse gas emissions within a few decades.
But the experts are now warning that the steps taken so far are not nearly adequate and that a serious crisis is closer than previously thought, perhaps arriving within 20 years (depending on how “crisis” is defined). Public confusion is prevalent because much of the information is hard to interpret, especially that of a more technical (scientific) or economic nature, and because it is mixed together with much misinformation, a good deal of which is deliberate. Accordingly, public beliefs vary widely both on the seriousness of the issue, on humanity’s responsibility for it, and on what can be done at what cost.
Among informed analysts there is little debate about the lead-in to today’s crisis. The upward trend in average global temperature dates from the 1920s, and is closely matched by that of the height of the sea level; both track quite closely the upward trajectory of global carbon emissions, or of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Until about 25 years ago there was some professional debate as to whether the human race was substantially responsible for the rising temperatures; now there is none, although there remains discussion as to whether other factors have played a secondary role. In summary, the physical processes of global warming are relatively well understood, and have produced the now obvious conclusion that GHG emissions must be reduced sharply and rapidly if the planet is not to suffer the crisis that experts fear.
This essay focusses on the economics of climate change—the economic costs that are resulting and will result from it, and the economic price that will have to be paid to rein it in. These are, for various reasons, among the less understood aspects of the threat. Read more …
Posted in Climate change | Comments Off on An Economic Perspective on the Challenge of Global Warming
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