It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Too Much Emotion? Or Not Enough?

Bill McKibben makes a cogent case for getting angrier, not more dispassionate.
For 20 years, environmentalists have operated on the notion that we'd get action if we simply had scientists explain to politicians and chief executives that our current ways are unsustainable. That turns out, quite conclusively, not to work. We need to be able to explain to them that continuing in their current ways will end something they actually care about: their careers. And because we'll never have the cash to compete with Exxon, we better work in the currencies we can muster: bodies, spirit, passion.


Mostly, we need to tell the truth, resolutely and constantly. Fossil fuel is wrecking the one Earth we've got. It's not going to go away because we ask politely. If we want a world that works, we're going to have to raise our voices.


Alexander Ac said...

Ria Novosti has a nice graph on the record breaking heat wave in Moscow - see the broken daily records here:

rustneversleeps said...

He's right, of course. But what struck me as incongruous is that I was unable to finish Eaarth, partly because it just seemed too "soft" in its demeanour. I mean, fer crissake, "Angry Bill's" closing chapters are entitled "Backing Off" and "Lightly, Carefully, Gracefully". Yawn.

I think that Gus Speth's The Bridge at the End of the World or Clive Hamilton's Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change were far more "in-yer-face!" about the direness of the problem and about how the "old environmentalism" is totally failing on this file.

I can imagine in this post-Copenhagen, post-Senate-debacle world that Speth is ruefully saying "I told you so.". I mean, look at some of his chapter headings: "The Limits of Today's Environmentalism", "The Corporation: Changing the Fundamental Dynamics", "Capitalism's Core: Advancing Beyond Today's Capitalism", "A New Politics". After decades on the "inside", no more incrementalism, no more Mr. Nice Gus from him.

You wanna know something that is making me angry? The galling calls from the peanut gallery that "warmists" have - according to them - been soundly trounced so now is the time for an even more moderate approach; a further de-emphasizing of climate change in favour of "common ground" issues like "security, and tail-between-the-legs bridge-building with those who ignorantly and immorally lied and stalled and obfuscated on behalf of a broken and dangerous status quo on energy and carbon. Uh, no.

All the whiny yapping about how Tamino or Ray Ladbury or dhogza or sod are big meanies who turn people off. Turn who off, exactly? Yeah, I know, different strokes for different folks. But for me, I'm with "Oliver" on this one. "Please sirs, can I have some more?" Tell it like it is.

There are more people, with more knowledge, and more fire-in-the-belly than ever before. And this last 9 months or so has been a crucible for change. Good for McKibben. Get angry.

So we lost a year. Or more. Big deal. Yeah, we never get that year of inaction back, but the fate of the climate wasn't going to hinge on year 2010 emissions. It's about the cumulative 2011-2050 and beyond emissions. So if we come back for the next round stronger, smarter, more demanding, angrier, - and we are - it'll be a long -term win.

Alexander Ac said...

May it be that (we) environmentalists can NEVER win?

And how possibly could they, if "reducing consumption" brings increasing unemployment?

Alexander Ac said...

I.e. we should not grow the global economy in the first place -- after that, there is no easy (peaceful) solution...

Florifulgurator said...

Not only anger. More ridicule and satire, please! Like the Colbert Report on climate and stuff
Or psychologic studies a la Christian Morgenstern's Mr. Palmström (1910).

The Impossible Fact

Palmström, old, an aimless rover,
walking in the wrong direction
at a busy intersection
is run over.

"How," he says, his life restoring
and with pluck his death ignoring,
"can an accident like this
ever happen? What's amiss?

"Did the state administration
fail in motor transportation?
Did police ignore the need
for reducing driving speed?

"Isn't there a prohibition,
barring motorized transmission
of the living to the dead?
Was the driver right who sped ... ?"

Tightly swathed in dampened tissues
he explores the legal issues,
and it soon is clear as air:
Cars were not permitted there!

And he comes to the conclusion:
His mishap was an illusion,
for, he reasons pointedly,
that which must not, can not be.

Anna Haynes said...

from rustneversleeps -
> "The galling calls from the peanut gallery ... All the whiny yapping..."

But Rust, they're acting as defense attorneys; of course they will defend their client by any means possible, so what's the point of being shocked, shocked that what they're saying isn't fair or reasonable? It doesn't move understanding forward.

What does surprise me, a little, is that nothing comes up when I do a [Warming101 custom] search (link) for "ratf*cking".

(vowel obscured for increased palatability)

Stuff does come up when you search Daily Kos or Talking Points Memo.

HowardS said...

"Tell the truth, resolutely and constantly." Absolutely.

But i don't see efficacy in getting angrier. As Anthony Giddens points out, long-term solutions will require that we reduce political polarization.