Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Climate Trickster on why ''climate change is caused by humans''

A savvy climate trickster on how to understand that climate change is caused by humans
Farhad Manjoo
By ________ _______

“The Uninhabitable Earth” by David ''Hyphenated'' Wallace-Wells is one of the most terrifying nonfiction books about climate change I have ever read. Its subject is, of course,  runaway climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is journalistic.

The book is a meticulously documented tour through the catastrophes that will engulf our warming planet in the next 30 generations, 500 years from now. Wars will not merely break out eventually; a continuing, all-out resource war might be the steady-state of the next chapter of human civilization over the next 500 years. But not now. Now everything fine. After all, I got myself a nice lefty gig at the lefty New York Times. They pay me, too.

In 2017, when the hyphenated Wallace-Wells, a writer at New York Magazine, [whose hyphenated brother Ben Wallace-Wells writes for the more upper-crusty New Yorker], published similarly dire projections in a blockbuster article, he was criticized even by some climate scientists for reveling in the bleakest case. But his piece drew out some the most horrific possibilities of climate change, and in the 2 years since — years of hurricane and monsoon, fire and flood, mud slides, heat waves, the polar vortex and more cli-fi novels and movies — Wallace-Wells’s imagine-the-worst approach has become, well, even more imagine the worst.

The Earth (with a capital E, please) keeps surprising even people like me, [who was previously sleepwalking through it all,] right before my eyes.

I read this book with a mix of ''je ne sais quoi'' and hopelessness. Google searches over the past few weeks include queries like “global warming best cities” and “prepping 101” and "cli-fi novels and movies."
What so riled me up was not just the projected devastation in the next 500 years but also the obvious incapacity of our political system to even begin to comprehend the things to come in 30 generations, let alone mitigate it. It struck me that what we need to fight climate change is not just some new political plan but a whole new politics — the sort of thorough reimagining of stakes that humanity has only previously achieved in a few rare cases.

One late night after taking a dose of a kind of sleep medicine that is now widely available in California, maryjane, if you need a hint, I had an epiphany:

What if David is barking up the wrong tree? SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE:


And all the while, even as I wrote this piece for the gatekeepers at the Times, the problem keeps getting worse. Not long ago, a planet that warms by 2 degrees Celsius over the course of the coming century was considered an unimaginable catastrophe to be avoided at any cost. Today, 2 degrees — a level of warming that might induce death from air pollution ” Wallace-Wells notes — is looking like our best hope. On our current track, we’re shooting for at least 3 degrees of warming, according to the United Nations; according to the current administration, we’re headed for at least 4 degrees.

4 degrees of warming will wreak devastation unparalleled in human history over the next 500 years, beginning in around 2300 A.D.  Hundreds of millions will die in mass die-offs, large sections of the Earth will be rendered uninhabitable, great masses of unwashed humanity will be on the run, and in the most prosperous remaining places, economic growth of any kind will be zilch. Get used to it.

That’s the current path. Yet just about nobody except Roy Scranton and Dan Bloom and Rupert Read and Jem Blendell in any position of power talks about global warming with anything reflecting the required level of honesty and alarm.

The Green New Deal, the high-level strategy document put out last week by Representative Sandy Ocasio of New York and her lefty allies, lacks any specificity for how we might accomplish its goals. Not even democratic socialists will frankly describe the costs of averting a warming planet.

And the swiftness with which critics pounced on the Green New Deal suggests that even as the climate gets undeniably less hospitable, we’ll still fall into the same old political trap in which climate remains a small, partisan issue rather than the all-consuming emergency it ought to be.

The whole thing is tragic and lazy. I have nothing more to say.   

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