Thursday, July 03, 2008

G8 must get down to our business

I need to tie a few apparently disconnected things together and hope that they make sense to someone besides myself. Please bear with me.

After my recent post on Tipping Points, Lisa commented:
"As a GP activist I try to focus on local issues where I can see some success: Ballona Wetlands, South Central Farm, getting IRV on the LA ballot, etc. too many issues, too little time!

What would you have city GP activists do about gas prices for rural folks, and everyone?"
That is a good question. I have to agree with Lisa that there are different actions for different situations and that one sized solutions will in this case fail us all.

We still have to pay a lot of attention to the fact that we just may be at a tipping point and that we here in California are going to be in need of triage before it is over. The warning could not be more clear than in this recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Human activities are already changing the climate of the American West. This report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), drawn from 50 scientific studies, 125 other government and scientific sources, and our own new analyses, documents that the West is being affected more by a changed climate than any other part of the United States outside of Alaska. When compared to the 20th century average, the West has experienced an increase in average temperature during the last five years that is 70 percent greater than the world as a whole. Responding quickly at all levels of government by embracing the solutions that are available is critical to minimizing further disruption of this region's climate and economy. (emphasis mine).
The problem we have is that the general public can only solve one problem at a time and so they have decided that they one they want to solve is that of high gasoline prices. According to a Pew Research Study, even young people, women and so called liberals view the energy shortages that are driving up gasoline prices are more important than environmental considerations.
The public's changing energy priorities are most evident in the growing percentage that views increased energy exploration - including mining and drilling, as well as the construction of new power plants - as a more important priority for energy policy than increased conservation and regulation. Nearly half (47%) now rates energy exploration as the more important priority, up from 35% in February. The proportion saying it is more important to increase energy conservation and regulation has declined by 10 points (from 55% to 45%).
So, Lisa, I am not sure what you might do other than to keep spreading the word. But, if we don't fix this problem and do it quickly, there will be no more Ballona Wetlands. After all the hard work by many dedicated people, to lose it all must not be allowed.

I would ask that every political leader take the little exercise suggested by Dr. Jim Hansen (N.A.S.A.) to Prime Minister Fukuda as yet another G8 opens in Tokyo.
Finally, Prime Minister Fukuda, I would like to thank you for helping make clear to the other leaders of the eight nations the great urgency of the actions needed to address climate change. Might I make one suggestion for an approach you could use in drawing their attention? If the leaders find that the concept of phasing out all emissions from coal, and taking measures to ensure that unconventional fossil fuels are left in the ground or used only with zero-carbon emissions, is too inconvenient, then, in that case, they could instead spend a small amount of time composing a letter to be left for future generations.

This letter should explain that the leaders realized their failure to take these actions would cause our descendants to inherit a planet with a warming ocean, disintegrating ice sheets, rising sea level, increasing climate extremes, and vanishing species, but it would have been too much trouble to make changes to our energy systems and to oppose the business interests who insisted on burning every last bit of fossil fuels. By composing this letter the leaders will at least achieve an accurate view of their place in history.
There is a lot more in Dr. Hansen's letter. It summarizes just how important this is to us all. Lisa, if I have not convinced you that there is not other single issue more important than this, I have been a total failure.


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, i know, we all know (well everyone I hang out with does), that if we don't solve global disruption (as leading scientist John Holdren prefers to call it), then none of the rest of it matters.

of course that is the overarching concern, but sometimes I am replying to specific issues on your blog, like, in the previous case, why you think urban GP activists are promoting biking to the neglect of high gas prices for rural folks.

Yes, yes it is all connected and holistic as we Greens know. Too bad our society is linear/sound bite addicted/ and most in the media don't portray things as holistic--they want to focus on how do we fix this ONE thing, like high gas prices.

Anonymous said...

I guess i'm not too concerned that a poll shows people are 10 percent more concerned about energy shortages than they were, or that they are more concerned about high gas prices than environmental concerns.

When do our leaders care or make quick adjustments in policy, based on what the majority of Americans want?!

Are we out of Iraq now that 65 or 70% have been against it for a long time? NO!!

Do we have universal single payer healthcare because the majority of Americans want it?? NO!!

Wes said...

I think that urban Greens think that rural America is irrelevant because I have had notes where they said so.