Citizen Action Monitor

“We’re stuck,” tweets Tim Garrett. To put it bluntly, we won’t do what is necessary to save ourselves

Eight years ago Kevin Anderson warned “any contextual interpretation of the science demonstrates that the threshold of 2°C is no longer viable.” —

No 2691 Posted by fw, December 8, 2020

“It’s rather jarring to see an expert like Tim Garrett, whose work I have followed for many years, come out and say so bluntly that we will not do the steps needed to save ourselves. And the reason is very simple… People will simply raise hell if their right to pollute and consume is severely curtailed. We see this today with people’s refusal to simply wear a damn mask and do what’s for the greater good in a global pandemic. Now can you imagine the outrage when they are told they have to drastically reduce their living standards to prevent catastrophic climate change, a threat we cannot see but which will nevertheless destroy us in the long run?”

“Not only do we need to halt future CO2 emissions, but we need to magically extract CO2 already in the atmosphere with technology that does not exist. Quoting Prof Anderson from last month: — …in 2020 such technologies remain highly speculative, with a few very small laboratory/pilot schemes now operating, with other proposed technologies still in the imagination of academics and tech-entrepreneurs. This faith in utopian technology reflects a deep and systemic bias that has hugely undermined the real scale of the mitigation challenge and misinformed policy makers for many years.” — Our fate is sealed.”

XRayMike79, author of both passages above, and of the article featured in this repost, writes this about himself: “I’m a social critic, political/cultural commentator and artist. The modern industrial world is sleepwalking towards the cliff of economic and ecological ruin. Most are oblivious to the paradigm shift that is occurring, but some are starting to awaken to the false stories our culture has told itself. My objective is to highlight important news stories and essays to find the hidden truth.

Tim Garrett is an atmospheric physicist, department head at the University of Utah, who explains why civilization is caught in a double-bind, ending with its collapse this century. Kevin Anderson is with the Centre for Environment and Development Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is also Deputy Director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Research, University of Manchester, UK.

Below is my heavily edited repost of XRay’s article, with my added sources and formatting. To read the original piece, click on the following linked title.

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Tim Garrett, physicist/professor of atmospheric sciences who hypothesised that civilization is effectively a heat engine whose power is expressed in the form of economic growth, admits that we will never decarbonize. Posted by XRAYMIKE79, December 6, 2020

It’s rather jarring to see an expert like Tim Garrett, whose work I have followed for many years, come out and say so bluntly that we will not do the steps needed to save ourselves. And the reason is very simple…

[Garrett explains in a Twitter conversation – ]

 

 

 

Tim Garrett Dec 5, 2020

In principle, we can operate the economy without using fossil fuels.

In principle, the continents can be rearranged so that Europe is at the South Pole.

Neither will happen. Pathways matter.

*****

Tim Garrett Dec 6, 2020

A clarification. Many states are possible. But which states will happen depends on the past, and here inertia matters. We have built an 8 billion people civilization on a million year historical pathway of burning things. History cannot be erased. So we’re stuck.

*****

Dave Walton Dec 5, 2020

So does that mean, since governments have renewed their commitment to attaining huge cuts in emissions, standards of livelihood will have to drop significantly?

*****

Tim Garrett Dec 5, 2020 — Replying to Dave Walton

Drastically. So hard to see how it will happen. The governments will be voted out.

*****

[XRayMike79 chimes in]

People will simply raise hell if their right to pollute and consume is severely curtailed. We see this today with people’s refusal to simply wear a damn mask and do what’s for the greater good in a global pandemic. Now can you imagine the outrage when they are told they have to drastically reduce their living standards to prevent catastrophic climate change, a threat we cannot see but which will nevertheless destroy us in the long run? The reality that humans are causing the climate to warm, with catastrophic consequences, demands radical government intervention in the market as well as collective action on an unprecedented scale. This has been known for decades and those catastrophic consequences are now coming to fruition, yet we remain a carbon-based, growth-oriented civilization.

*****

[The longer we wait to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the more difficult it will be to keep emissions below the 2°C threshold. Even an “unprecedented” 10% annual emissions reduction from 2020 gives us only a 50/50 chance of staying under 2°C before global warming would exceed this target. To put it more dramatically, would you travel on an airline if you knew you only had a 50/50 chance of arriving at your destination?]

[This was precisely Kevin Anderson’s point in a 2012 paper he co-authored. He warned that a 2°C threshold is no longer viable] (NOTE — The link is to a PDF file which downloads automatically).

Prof. Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows, writing in the journal Nature, say that “any contextual interpretation of the science demonstrates that the threshold of 2°C is no longer viable, at least within orthodox political and economic constraints” and that “catastrophic and ongoing failure of market economics and the laissez-faire rhetoric accompanying it (unfettered choice, deregulation and so on) could provide an opportunity to think differently about climate change.

[In another article, cited below], Anderson says there is no longer a non-radical option, and for developed economies to play an equitable role in holding warming to 2°C (with 66% probability), emissions compared to 1990 levels would require at least a 40% reduction by 2018, 70% reduction by 2024, and 90% by 2030. This would require “in effect a Marshall plan for energy supply“. As well low-carbon supply technologies cannot deliver the necessary rate of emission reductions and they need to be complemented with rapid, deep and early reductions in energy consumption, what he calls a radical emission reduction strategy. All this suggests that even holding warming to a too-high 2°C limit now requires an emergency approach.

Emergency action has proven fair and necessary for great social and economic challenges we have faced before. Call it the great disruption, the war economy, emergency mode, or what you like; the story is still the same, and it is now the only remaining viable path.[Source: The real budgetary emergency and the myth of “burnable carbon” by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014 – scroll to bottom of article]

[Moreover], not only do we need to halt future CO2 emissions, but we need to magically extract CO2 already in the atmosphere with technology that does not exist. Quoting Prof Anderson from last month:

“…in 2020 such technologies remain highly speculative, with a few very small laboratory/pilot schemes now operating, with other proposed technologies still in the imagination of academics and tech-entrepreneurs. This faith in utopian technology reflects a deep and systemic bias that has hugely undermined the real scale of the mitigation challenge and misinformed policy makers for many years.”

Our fate is sealed.

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