Saturday, June 9, 2012

After Pearl Harbour

Following my comments yesterday about the disparity between the catastrophic potential of climate change and the mild words and actions even of those who accept the science, I was interested to see David Spratt address the same topic,
After Pearl Harbor, the US government told Detroit to stop manufacturing automobiles for private use, and start building tanks and other war materiel. Automobile production was 162,000 in 1941 and zero in 1942. Tank production was <300 in 1940 and 25,000 by 1942.

When the US does act decisively on climate, the government will tell the private sector to stop burning coal and start getting power from renewables within one year, and they will do it because it feasible. The US can't solve the climate crisis unilaterally, so we will pay for China to go solar in exchange for shutting down its coal mines (the two nations control 40% of the worlds coal reserves), just as we couldn't win the war alone, and paid the Soviet Union to keep the second front open.

Our agenda must aim for that level of action, nothing short of it is sufficient, and the details will not be worked out beforehand. Our present agenda, focused on US domestic emissions and anything-is-better-than-nothing, has more in common with the pre-war policies of isolationism and appeasement.
Hear! Hear!

I read that the last time CO2 levels were as high as they are today was 15 million years ago. Global temperatures were 5-10°F higher than they are today, the sea level was about 75-120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland.

The geological record suggests that the current acidification is potentially unparalleled in the last 300 million years of Earth history. Researchers say this is worse than during any of four of the major mass extinctions in history.

What is a proportional response to this situation? I don't think more bicycling and worm farms will do the job. As David McKay says,
If everyone does a little, only a little gets done.

Just as the attack on Pearl Harbour brought a massive response, so it is inevitable that climate change will foster an all-out response at some point.

As individuals we can advocate for change and prepare ourselves by making adaptations ahead of the curve. See the Take Action tab above for things you can do.


News of the day on the Transformations menu tab.

8 June 2012. Emirates Airlines' 2012 environmental report shows that in the year to March 31,  the Emirates fleet burned 22.5 percent less fuel (litres/passenger km) than the IATA global average as well as emitting 18 percent less fossil sourced carbon by the same metrics. Most of the advantage is due to having a younger, more fuel-efficient fleet. Source: Climate Spectator.


  1. Sorry but this is old news. David Spratt has simply re-posted an article by Ken Ward that was published by Grist in 2008, five years ago. Many in the climate movement have advocated for years that the only hope of retrieving the situation lies in the sort of mobilization undertaken by governments in times of war.

    I can remember David writing and saying this two or three years ago now and Paul Gilding in his book 'The Great Disruption' now published a couple of years ago made the same argument.

    It is now clear that mainstream politics is far from prepared to take this step. This refers not just to Australia's Labor and Liberal parties but they are certainly included.

    After five years with Rudd-Gillard Labor in charge the only progress has come as a result of the peculiar position of the Greens holding the balance of power in the federal Lower House. The climate movement has at best been peripherally significant in driving change a sort of positive background hum outside the castle walls.

    Make no mistake there are tough times coming. The battle is about to get very serious. The mining generation and industry lobbies hold great power and have much invested in keeping control and making sure that things don't change. Insane? Of course but that realization doesn't change anything.

    1. I find it amazing how some people seem to think it's acceptable to dismiss entirely valid arguments on the basis that it's not 'new'...

      Not sorry (for my opinion), btw.

  2. Sorry it isn't fresh for you Doug. I really liked the concrete example of how US manufacturing switched from cars to armaments overnight. It shows that it can be done. And the message is that it will have to be done again.

    I'm reading 'The Great Disruption' right now.

    Like you, I agree that the battle is about to get very serious. (Or I HOPE it is!)