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What is to be done?

01 Jun 2022 | OP ED Watch

Climate alarmists can’t seem to decide whether to glide smoothly to a high-tech green paradise, smash everything and start over with smaller bits, finally get woke, or sit down for a good cry. George Monbiot of the Guardian, for instance, denounces optimism about new technology and adaptation as “fairytales”. Others zoom off to new worlds of intersectionality. But Canary Media, not always our favourite outlet on climate, passes the alarmist sanity test by praising the latest, greatest, smaller nuclear reactors.

Monbiot cannot be blamed for the headline “We need optimism – but Disneyfied climate predictions are just dangerous” because editors not authors create headlines. But it’s a pretty good summary of a piece that denounces “economist Oded Galor’s much-praised new book, The Journey of Humanity” as just “the latest in a line of books by professional optimists – Gates, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley – who have failed to grasp the nature of either Earth systems or the political economy that bears upon them.” Among other things, wretched humans aren’t disappearing fast enough for good old Earth. But he has a plan that will help.

Monbiot is one of those people for whom it’s all a question of what consequences you call into existence by the sheer Promethian or worse exercise of your sovereign will. He denounces all these would-be practical environmentalists as “not climate deniers; they are politics deniers. They appear to believe that the transformations necessary to prevent systemic collapse can happen without political pressure or political change.” Grim George knows better.

He says

“only a radical break from business as usual will prevent planetary disaster. This requires the mass mobilisation of citizens to demand that their governments stop these projects and keep fossil fuels in the ground. How do we know such protests work? Because if they didn’t, our government would not be planning to ban them. Politics, which means seeking to change the decisions made in our name, is all that stand between us and catastrophe. This is why I see the politics deniers as more dangerous now than the climate deniers.”

Whereas we see people who don’t tell us what happens the day after we get rid of fossil fuels as more dangerous than a wildfire and a tornado full of mutant sharks hitting the same day.

Not to be outdone wokewise, perhaps because heat is depriving them of sleep,

“Northumbria University researchers are part of a unique team working on a new £1m project to better equip Indigenous communities in the Arctic against the disproportionate impacts of climate change. The study, involving local community researchers and action groups, government agencies and decision-makers, Inuit knowledge-holders, and leading UK and Canadian academics, will investigate changing ground conditions and assess their wider implications in coastal regions of Canada’s Inuit homeland that are under threat from thawing permafrost, disappearing sea ice and high rates of erosion.”

So leaping into committee is certainly one option. But others have slightly more practical plans. In a separate piece Canary Media laments that “California’s plan to avoid blackouts relies on fossil fuels as last resort”. And it’s worse than that headline lets on since actually “California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) has proposed $6.7 billion in additional spending over the coming years to shore up grid reliability. Some of that spending – nearly a billion dollars – would be aimed at expanding carbon-free energy. But much more of it – about $5.2 billion – would likely end up going to gas power plants and diesel backup generators the state hopes it won’t have to use.” Somehow we think putting $5.2 out of $6.7 billion into hydrocarbons is more like “main plan” than “last resort”. But we’ll cut them some slack since they’re also apparently realizing that if you really think fossil fuels are bad yet understand that energy is good, you should be wildly enthusiastic about modern nuclear power. It may not be the best option. But it’s a sane option.

For our money, staying sane is always a good plan.

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