Weinberg: cause of global warming “kinda does matter”

A post about Sarah Palin’s denial of the human roots of global climate change generated a back-and-forth between World War 4 Report editor Bill Weinberg and an Anonymous Reader. It was turning into something of a distraction in the original item, so it now gets its own page (just in case anyone is actually paying attention). Here’s the latest installment:

public transportation

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/05/2008 – 07:10.

The reason I’m asking about plans is that there’s plenty of empty posturing on these issues. Whether it’s a deliberate delaying tactic or not, that’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Pretty much everyone pretends to be against poverty for example… but there’s a world of difference between those who have no plan or a plan that won’t work (trickle-down and whatnot) and those who have a plan that actually adresses the issue (land reform, labor issues, taxes, social entitlements and so on). And then there are the utopian solutions that actually purport to solve the problem.

I’m not asking you to come up with a utopian plan: I would rather hear about a more practical solution. Sometimes there are no such solutions however.
But if you no have no plan at all, if you don’t know what to do about the problem, then talking about how much climate change we are commited to is a waste of time. Once we have agreed on how much, what do you propose we do? We’d have a consensual goal and no way to achieve it. I would have thought that his has been done enough times in internaional conferences by now.
If the problem was an easy one, this approach would be reasonable. But this is a hard problem, and a global one to boot… no society has ever managed to solve that kind of a problem as far as I know. Assuming that someone else will come up with a plan that works just in time is a recipe for latching on to some self-serving boondoggle or power grab that some fast talker is going to put forward.

Now, as to what you proposed… light rail makes sense although resurrecting a century-old way of going about it doesn’t. It’s not a replacement for a comprehensive transportation plan or even a comprehensive rail plan however.
But destroying roads? People are relying on many (some are superfluous I guess) of these roads now, right? Rail isn’t going to replace all of them and they would be quite useful to build and maintain a rail/electricity infrastructure as well.

I assume you were kidding but it bears repeating that friendly, local, primitive subsistence economies can only sustain so many people (depending on the region) and that climate change would affect many such local economies down the road.

The worst thing about the kind of stuff you propose is that, unless if was adopted globally, it would only delay the burning of fossil fuels.

Mitigation can be done at a local as well as at a global level. The really good mitigation solutions are hard but there are plenty of easy ones too.

I don’t care about Palin but I didn’t see any denial in those quotes above. Maybe she’s a denier trying to cover up her position… I don’t know and I don’t care. But it seems to me she’s saying the same thing you did earlier: we need to do something so let’s cut down pollution. That is inadequate when she says it and inadequate when you say it. It’s better than nothing but let’s not pretend it’s going to make much of a difference.

As to “unhabitable”, your poor source thankfully does not support the assertion. Yes, it sounds really ugly. Yes, there are many risks and uncertainties ahead but pretending it’s the end of the world isn’t helping. Take a good look at them instead. There’s a wikipedia article on the P-T boundary. WP has many problems but it’s much more informative and less sensationalistic than some mainstream rag.

To which Bill Weinberg responds:

Oh, spare me. If you equivocate on the clear cause of climate change you are never going to be able to come up with a meaningful “plan” to address it. If you don’t see denial in Palin’s quote it can only be because you are in it (denial, that is). Light rail is in no sense outmoded as an effective means of transportation, especially for the coastal urban corridors where the big majority of the USA’s fossil fuels get burned. I stand behind the word “uninhabitable” (as does most of the scientific community), and I’ll take the much-villified “mainstream media” over Wackypedia any day. Are we finished yet?

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