C10 of The Great Disruption - The One-Degree War

Accepting the belief (the hope?) that a Pearl Harbor level ecological/economic event will cause The Great Awakening (without triggering disastrous climate feed-back loops), the next step is come up with an action plan. What should these newly agreeing parties do?

Gilding and his friend Professor Jorgen Randers, one of the authors of the Club of Rome's The Limits to Growth (and recently The Limits toGrowth: The 30 Year Update) propose an action plan for the next 100 years.

The first action - likely undertaken with or without a plan - will be to reduce greenhouse gases. Climate warming will probably be seen as the cause of the Pearl Harbor style ecological/economic event. Given that the definition of this event includes the capacity to rouse the old order to action it therefore follows that the old order will be roused and will act.

Since greenhouse gases are responsible for warming the question arises: how much warming can be allowed? What should be the goal? The current consensus is that two degrees centigrade rise over pre-industrial revolution levels can be allowed - not because it is "safe" but because it is the best we can do politically.

Gilding disagrees. Quoting Winston Churchill, Gilding says we must do "what is necessary" - not just what is politically expedient. A two degree rise is likely to produce great damage and disruption. A one degree cap is safer. Gilding thinks this will be politically feasible given the impact of The Great Awakening (that results from The Great Disruption).

Estimates are that the Great Awakening Event will occur sometime around 2018 (no one knows for sure - it could be next year in 2012 or it could be 2028 - although if the latter, even more damage will have been done). In any case, using a 2018 as an arbitrary starting time, Gilding says that the following actions need to occur in the time frames indicated...

Years 1 -5 (2018 - 2023) Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Not only will this begin to clean up the atmosphere and start the cooling process it will shock our political and social systems into action. Following are some specific goals recommended for the first five year period:
  • Cut deforestation and other logging by 50%
  • Close 1,000 dirty coal power plants
  • Retrofit 1,000 other coal power plants with carbon capture and storage
  • Ration electricity and increase gas mileage
  • Erect a wind turbine or solar plant in every town (if only for psychological boost)
  • Create huge wind and solar farms in suitable location
  • Ration use of dirty cars to cut transport emissions by 50%
  • Strand half of world's aircraft
  • Capture or burn methane
  • Move away from climate unfriendly protein
  • Bind one gigaton of CO2 in soil
  • Launch a government and community-led "shop less live more" campaign (hard to imagine old order sanctioning this)
Years 5 - 20 (2023 - 2038) Move world to net zero climate emissions. Requires technological and social innovation

Years 20 - 100 (2038 - 2118) Achieve a stable climate and a sustainable economy. Reverse emission; remove CO2 from atmosphere.

Obviously all this seems impossible. Gilding says to look back the changes brought about WWII. (One struck me. Four days after Pearl Harbor the government ordered a halt to the production of private vehicles. )

No comments: