“The truth is that, even assuming the wildest possible success of these initiatives—that humanity decided tomorrow to replace its coal and oil burning energy sources with non-carbon sources—it would still be too late to avert major climate disruptions,” says journalist-author Ross Gelbspan. “Despite this reality, the activists are still focusing on the causes—and not on the consequences—of the crisis. All these initiatives address only one part of the coming reality.” We share Gelbspan’s view, outlined in a recently posted video, that an essential part of the solution is “a coordinated global public-works program to rewire the world with clean energy.” We would add—in light of the potential future Gelbspan describes and scientific assessments project—that a coordinated strategy of adaptive preparedness that seeks to limit, if possible, the damage from global climatic disruption must be a major component of a comprehensive climate policy. See Details for the video and links to sources.
Climate Science Watch posts on Climate Change Preparedness
Gelbspan is the author of two significant books about climate change:
Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled a Climate Crisis—And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster (Basic Books, 2004; paperback edition 2005)
The Heat is On: The Climate Crisis, The Cover-up, The Prescription (Basic Books, 1997; paperback edition 1998)
Along with Bill McKibben, Dr. Heidi Cullen, Rick Piltz, Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus, and others, he appears in the award-nominated feature-length documentary Everything’s Cool (2007), a film about ‘global warming messengers’ and the chasm between scientific understanding and public action on climate change. (Also see here and here.)
He is a contributor to the excellent DeSmogBlog, a site devoted to exposing and combatting the global warming disinformation campaign.
Excerpts from Gelbspan’s article “Beyond the Point of No Return:”
Beyond the Point of No Return
It’s too late to stop climate change—so what do we do now?
As the pace of global warming kicks into overdrive, the hollow optimism of climate activists, along with the desperate responses of some of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, are preventing us from focusing on the survival requirements of the human enterprise.
The environmental establishment continues to peddle the notion that we can solve the climate problem.
We have failed to meet nature’s deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes. These will happen either incrementally—or in sudden, abrupt jumps.
Under either scenario, it seems inevitable that we will soon be confronted by water shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather events, collapsing infrastructures, and, potentially, breakdowns in the democratic process itself.
Start with the climate activists, who are telling us only a partial truth.
Virtually all of the national and grassroots climate groups are pushing hard to reduce carbon emissions. The most aggressive are working to change America’s entire energy structure from one based on coal and oil to a new energy future based on non-carbon technologies—as they should.
A coalition of groups, including 350.org and 1Sky, have lobbied the new Administration to re-engage the US with the international climate negotiations. The Campus Climate Challenge is planning a new and more energetic clean energy campaign. Focus The Nation continues to exhort colleges and universities around the country to green their campuses. The large Washington-based environmental groups are pressing to improve climate and energy bills that are moving through Congress—even though the bills are clearly inadequate to the challenge before us.
The truth is that, even assuming the wildest possible success of these initiatives—that humanity decided tomorrow to replace its coal and oil burning energy sources with non-carbon sources—it would still be too late to avert major climate disruptions. Despite this reality, the activists are still focusing on the causes—and not on the consequences—of the crisis.
All these initiatives address only one part of the coming reality. …
In fact, we may already be witnessing the early stages of runaway climate change in the melting of the Arctic, the increase in storm intensity, the accelerating extinctions of species, the ominous, large-scale releases of methane and the prolonged nature of recurring droughts. …
A rise of 2 degree C. over pre-industrial temperatures is now virtually inevitable, according to the IPCC, as the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is approaching the destabilizing level of 450 parts per million. That rise will bring drought, hunger, disease and flooding to millions of people around the world. …
One frequently overlooked potential casualty of accelerating climate change may be our tradition of democracy (corrupted as it already is). When governments have been confronted by breakdowns, they have frequently resorted to totalitarian measures to keep order in the face of chaos. It is not hard to imagine a state of emergency morphing into a much longer state of siege, especially since heat-trapping carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for about 100 years.
Add the escalating squeeze on our oil supplies, which could intensify our meanest instincts, and you have the ingredients for a long period of repression and conflict.
Ominously, this plays into the scenario, thoughtfully explored by Naomi Klein [in her book Shock Doctrine], that the community of multi-national corporations will seize on the coming catastrophes to elbow aside governments as agents of rescue and reconstruction—-but only for communities that can afford to pay. This dark vision implies the increasing insulation of the world’s wealthy minority from the rest of humanity—buying protection for their fortressed communities from the Halliburtons, Bechtels and Blackwaters of the world while the majority of the poor are left to scramble for survival among the ruins.
The only antidote to that kind of future is a revitalization of government—an elevation of public mission above private interest and an end to the free-market fundamentalism that has blinded much of the American public with its mindless belief in the divine power of markets. In short, it requires a revival of a system of participatory democracy that reflects our collective values far more accurately than the corporate state into which we have slid. …