Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australian water torture

Paul Gilding in the Business Spectator (Australia): … No matter how desperate the forecasts now look, it is hard to imagine a crisis we can’t ultimately deal with, though not without cost. Human society has shown itself to be extraordinarily adaptable and capable of responding to new circumstances. Our resilience and capacity for innovation appears to be boundless once we put our minds to the task. WWII is perhaps the most dramatic example, and one from which we can learn many lessons and take great heart.

While many of us have days when we despair at the lack of action in response to the climate science, history shows this ongoing denial is a consistent pattern. Fortunately, also consistent is our capacity to then suddenly wake up and achieve extraordinary change, amazingly quickly.

The good news is that, in a technical and economic sense, eliminating CO2 emissions from the global economy is quite viable, and surprisingly so, as Jorgen Randers and I detailed in our One Degree War Plan. These conclusions have been replicated in a number of other studies. So all we need is the decision to act.

This will be little comfort for the families of the 30 dead in the Queensland floods since November, or those of the more than 800 now confirmed dead in Brazil’s worst ever natural disaster, with that country also gripped by floods and mudslides.

But like water torture, each new catastrophic climate event slowly breaks down our resistance. Every flood drips on our collective denial, wearing it down until it will be paper-thin. Then one day, the denial will be gone and we’ll get to work. The more we get ready for that day, the less torture we will have to endure.

NASA image of 2011 flooding in Brisbane

No comments: