Many believe – I find it intriguing – that the mounting catastrophes of global warming will undo the global economic system with rapid and radical redistributions of wealth.
Ergo, global revolution.
If this right, we must view conferences like the one today in Paris as presaging a very violent future. The powers-that-be seem to know what to do, but seem incapable of doing it.
I find the rather humorous now technical term employed by conference negotiators, “mitigation,” particularly revealing. For the COP conferences it’s the “nice way” to justify wealth distribution to the poorer countries incapable of the investments needed to prepare for global warming.
That’s what they say, anyway. What they really mean is mitigation against another Arab Spring, another Syrian civil war, another Ukraine, another series of mass migrations.
The COP20 (the conference before this one) pledged $100 billion annually from developed countries to undeveloped countries as “mitigation” to help them avoid high carbon emitting fuels. This is offensive: hardly a drop in the bucket, almost useless. What’s worse: hardly half of the pledges materialized as one western leader after another faced pushback from their legislatures.
“$100bn is an inadequate political figure. What the international community needs to mobilise … is in the order of trillions,” Seyni Nafo, spokesman for the African Group of Negotiators, told the press at the conference.
“Mitigation” admits that the world’s order is changing as human suffering accelerates: ISIS leaders may be evil souls, but the support from the people over which they reign comes from a desperation to survive.
Desertification is a process that was identified more than 100 years ago showing that the Sahara Desert is growing. But the expansion has been ridiculously fast in just the last few years. In 1925 Lake Chad in Africa was 25,000 sq. km. Today it is only 2,500 sq. km.
The highest temperature ever recorded in October on our planet, 119F, occurred just a few weeks ago in South Africa’s Western Cape.
The link between global warming and terrorism is clear, ridiculously so as the summit occurs in Paris. It’s a simple connection that only crazy deniers try to refute. It’s a simple extrapolation of the tension on societies as their needs grow but planet earth’s bounty diminishes.
As crises pile upon one another, fixes will, too: migration, GMO agriculture, storm shelters, zoning away from coastal cliffs, etc. But only the developed world is capable of mounting these kinds of viable challenges.
Nuclear power, for example, seems like a quick fix if you discount the potential catastrophes it can produce on its own. But the cost of a single new nuclear power plant in France (which enjoys 75% of its power from nuclear) is $15-20 billion dollars. This is about a third of the Kenyan GDP.
The raw fact that the cost of fixes today is so high but exponentially greater for each moment of delay is, unfortunately, a non-starting argument where it matters most with the world’s biggest contributors to global warming: the U.S., China and India. There are still too many deniers in the U.S., too many impoverished waiting for rapid development in China and India.
There are naysayers as well as deniers. Naysayers, though, deserve our attention.
“Even if the world celebrates a Paris climate deal on December 11, the process will still have to be regarded as failure,” writes Prof. Steffen Böhm of the University of Essex.
Böhm is hardly alone in embracing the science of global warming while simultaneously insisting that the global economic system is incapable of confronting it meaningfully.
“Talking will continue until we realize climate change is a failure of a system, which – on the back of fossil fuel – is geared towards exponential economic growth. Nobody who sits at the negotiation table in Paris has the mandate nor inclination to ask fundamental, systemic questions of the logic of the dominant economic system and the way we consume the resources of this planet.”
But for the time being, for the day-to-day moments on which an Indian businessman or Kenyan farmer survive, we can only hope for greater western generosity.
But the end is nigh. No financier can reverse global warming. Nature is demanding greater justice for the deprived of mankind as the only logical way the planet can survive.
We either give it now with all the turbulence of the more privileged finally suffering some, or it will be taken away by the force of nature, and that will be much more painful to all.