Climate Change: Systematic vs Technical Perspectives
At its core the technical perspectives goes something like this:
Other elements are typically pursued under the mantra of reduced carbon emissions:
"Climate change is huge challenge for society. It's cause is greenhouse gas emissions. In order to solve the problem we therefore need to make it economically rational to reduce emissions: we need a price for carbon. The best way to allocate capital is through a cap and trade scheme."
"We must look at every option including nuclear power. Biofuels can help development in the south as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Afforestation is an affordable form of carbon sequestration. Forests must be protecting by compensating for lost profit from forestry and agriculture."
The systematic critique ties together issues that may superficially seem separate. At it's core the systemic critique says:
"Those of you interested in climate change are no doubt not interested in changing weather per se but in the consequences of this change; it is therefore dishonest of you to tackle climate change in isolation of other issues that lead to these same consequences. Furthermore, although these issues are of greatest concern to you we in the south have other issues to contend with that are as severe and urgent for us. Climate change is part of the issue of sustainability--reducing carbon emissions to save the coral, the rainforest, the arctic, will not make sense if overfishing destroys the coral ecosystems, deforestation takes the rainforest and pesticides render the arctic sterile. However, all of these issues are inextricably linked to equity; in a world of poverty, disease and injustice we cannot expect the environment to be cared for in the manner required for human kind to overcome this issue of sustainability. We have no future if we fail to recognise that sustainability is the challenge of our time and only fundamental changes to the global economic system offer the solution"
Common concerns arising from this systematic critique include:
"Considering all options is just fine but future generations who would be left with nuclear powers toxic legacy have no say in the decision, and we know to well how badly decisions are made when those effected are not consulted; also it's odd to talk about economic optimisation and subsidies in the same breath! Biofuels are generally grown by wealthy farmers with the involvement of multinational corporations: this is a power structure that we do not wish to strengthen. Biofuel production to date has involved land confiscations and displacement of farmers onto virgin forests, the advantages have been limited and where they exist these have been reaped by the wealthy. Afforestation has similar land rights issues to biofuels. Protecting ancient forests is a worthy cause, however in many nations of the south a few wealthy land lords own the vast majority of the land. Is this state of affairs going to be strengthened and the price paid by the newly unemployed foresters; surely the last thing we want is a wealthy elite living off the land by doing precisely nothing, while the rest struggle to get by."
I the battle between these perspectives on climate change continues at international climate talks, in national parliaments and in my head! I believe i have given the systematic critque a favourable rendering here, however, is some ways i havent been harsh enough on the technical approach and in others i tend to agree with its wisdom. The whole question of a given approaches wisdom is however only part of the story.
We start from here not from blank. It is not clear where to draw the line: replacing the economic system with something more equitable is a noble goal, and surely must be done, but in the shot time we have is this to be our primary approach? Alternatively are the NGOs right that a middle ground must be found and that some tasks must be carried out by those corporations currently in power and on there terms?
This is a interesting if not a simple area and Rising Tide North America (False Solutions Page), The Corner House and the Trans National Institute (Bali Essay) are amongst those working on it.
Labels: marketing and strategy
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