Saturday, October 26, 2019

Gloomy Forecast

Image result for climate changeEnvironmental & Science Education
Climate Change
Edward Hessler

In late September, Ron Way wrote a column for the Star Tribune (September 29) about a recent lunch. He starts by asking "Ever had a late lunch on a fine day with a foremost authority on energy--to discuss the nuclear industry and how nuke power plants might help mitigate climate change?" Way left, he writes, "with a sinking sense of despair."  

The expert was Dr. Dean Abrahamson, an emeritus professor of public policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.(Abrahamson has a Ph.D. in physics, an M.D. and a degree in public policy.)

A few highlights or, if you prefer, lowlights.

--Abrahamson knows nukes so it was a natural question about their place in the future, both in MN and also the US.  They are carbon free, prohibitively expensive requiring substantial subsidies, MN has a nuclear moratorium, and Xcel Energy is committed to renewables. Pointless here and across the US.

--The Paris Climate Agreement (2016) has a requirement: The elimination of greenhouse emissions by 2100 BUT by 2050, 80% of those emissions must end. A "kicker," as Way put it.

--The "calamity level" is already less than a degree away providing little wiggle room.

--And furthermore and importantly consider "the sheer enormity of the challenge, the world is still at the talkity-talk stage."  It is not that there have been no warnings which started in the 1960s, "and more recently a broad consensus of the world's top climate experts says we're at the hair-on-fire stage."

Way continues by discussing the nature of the warnings, e.g., 

--The various ways we spew carbon which in the end "amounts to a staggering amount of heat-trapping stuff still going up...."

Image result for polar ice melt--The indicators. Today everything is mega: storms, hurricanes, and flooding, the "wildly irregular weather patterns, polar ice melt, species extinction (and habitat loss), and drought...(Florida Key) climate exodus" and the voiding of insurance.

Of course Way discusses the growing hope coupled with "soaring public demand to address climate change," and technologies that offer some hope.

"What to do?," Way asks. About us older folks he suspects that we are likely to "grumble away our remaining time, thinking that all creativity for positive cultural change went into Smartphones and gadgets we're not good at using."  

There is some reason to think we can get on a fast or faster track and if you believe this "then pay heed to Greta (Thunberg), stop grumbling, get off the couch, and expend all the vigor you have to push real solutions. You could also fly less, drive much less, and forgo red meat (more important than you'd think)."

Way closes this gloomy and yet stirring essay (I hope you READ IT.) by writing, "This climate change thing is mega-serious, folks. It won't solve itself."

I owe the title to Mr.Way. It is perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment