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Have you reached this point?

February 28th, 2011 · No Comments

Mike Tidwell, impassioned director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, crossed a Rubicon.

Faced with weather shocks knocking out electricity and Republican political ascendancy seeking to knock truth out of public discourse, Tidwell is “changing his life again.” As Mike put it in a Washington Post OPED today,

I’m not a survivalist or an “end times” enthusiast. When it comes to climate change, I’m just a realist.

While Mike will almost certainly continue his battle to foster societal climate mitigation efforts, he is turning (at least some of) his energy to preparing for battling through a climate devastated future.

For those aware of climate change (and Peak oil and …), there is a simple question to ask: have you reached this point?

Tidwell is a passionate fighter for climate action and, with him at the helm, CCAN has been involved in many innovative efforts to highlight the imperative for climate mitigation and the myriad of viable paths for meaningful change.

I haven’t given up the cause. I still work overtime to promote clean energy, and I take solace when top climate scientists say we can still avoid the worst effects of global warming if we move quickly. It’s just that, well, we’re running out of time.

The proof is everywhere – outside my front door, in my neighborhood, on the news. After a decade of failure to address climate change at the national and international levels, our weather has gone haywire. In the Washington region alone, in barely a year, we’ve annihilated all records for snow accumulation, we’ve seen appalling power outages associated with year-round thunderstorms, and we’ve experienced the hottest summer in the 140 years we’ve been measuring. Winston Churchill’s oft-quoted warning on the eve of World War II now applies directly: “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”

Those consequences explain the generator in my garage and why I’m reinforcing my basement windows to protect emergency supplies.

Tidwell is laying out that he is creating a ‘storm bunker’, of sorts, in his DC-suburban home to enable him to weather through coming societal storms that — if we don’t get our act together — will make our current suite of natural storms and economic devastation from 2008 to the present look like the ‘good old days’.

When considering climate science … the changes that we are seeing around the world (fires in Russia, floods in Pakistan, melting glaciers, more rainfall in severe rainfall, etc …), and Peak Oil, the idea of ‘bunkering up’ can seem tempting. And, if a parent, it can seem an imperative to protect one’s children though the coming storms.

This assumes, however, that humanity has means to weather the storms — that, without a serious addressing of climate change and Peak Oil, humanity has a meaningful future. There are many reasons to question that assertion.

Tidwell — and this article is certainly part of it — certainly isn’t abandoning efforts to shift the public discusison. Yet, with this article, he states that he has crossed a Rubicon where his attention is turning toward ‘surviving’ (and adapting to?) a changing climate rather than fully focused on fighting to mitigate our path to avoid catastrophic climate chaos.

Now, I would recommend Tidwell’s piece as worth reading even thought one can question some of his ideas and reactions. For example, is Tidwell really serious in thinking that a few padlocks in a DC suburb will enable him to sail through social chaos?

In any event, Tidwell’s piece points to the question: what will it take to make you cross the Rubicon from fighting for society’s survival via policy change to focusing on personal survival through bunkering up?

A moment about online comments …

There are 376 comments to Tidwell’s post as I write this. The (vast) majority vitriolic anti-science syndrome sufferers. The proud ignorance of so many of the commentators to Tidwell’s piece are, even though not surprising, saddening. It would be heartening if commentators denying The Theory of Global Warming online were more accurate than the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Academy, the American Physics Society, etc but, sign, they are more on the mark re the science than those demeaning Mike Tidwell.

Among the more reasonable sounding, even, there are systematic errors. For example, EddietheInfidel wrote:

“we should err on the side of caution and do everything within reason to reduce our effluent emissions. We probably can and should do more, but it will take time and technology that has yet to be developed.”

Sigh … There is a tremendous amount that we can do … today … without any new technology, investments, and while boosting the economy.

Study after study of US energy patterns has shown that energy efficiency (“negawatts”) can cut US electricity usage over 20 percent in the coming decade, while accomodating economic growth, at prices below 4 cents per saved kilowatt hour. Hmmm … I would love to average paying 4 cents / kWh, wouldn’t you?

We can reduce the heat island impact through cool roofing. Walmart finds that the extra cost of white roofing pays back in weeks due to reduced air conditioning costs.

Tightened building codes, efficiency standards, etc and we can go a long way to reducing emissions while improving the economy … all without a single new patent.

Add in those new patents … move more aggressively … and we can have a major impact on reducing emissions, again, while strengthening US economic performance and competitiveness.

VP Cheney said we couldn’t risk a 1% chance of Iraqis having nuclear weapons.

What is the acceptable risk for not taking action to address climate change?

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Tags: climate change · environmental · Global Warming