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Addressing the Big Lie that there are alternatives to the Paris 2015 talk

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It is rubbish to suggest that there is any real alternative to the Paris Climate Conference 2015 in actually bringing down manmade greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In the first place if there was an alternative to a worldwide binding agreement to keep world temperatures to 2°C and do so in a way that would be fair and equitable to both developed nations and developing nations, that would already be happening. It is not. Worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are going dangerously up.

Admittedly the climate talks have failed over twenty times, but that does not mean there is any real alternative; it merely means that those who have fought against doing the only thing that will actually bring down worldwide greenhouse gas emission have been successful in thwarting the rest of us. Thinking we can replace the moral imperative to mitigate Climate Change with our present economic system is folly, as our present economic system is the very system that has hijacked our moral system and put us in this worldwide climate crisis in the first place.

The United Nations (UN), which is hosting the Paris Climate Conference 2015 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established to end worldwide conflagrations such as the first and second world wars. No other process than this, representatives of each nation continually talking and compromising, could have achieved this goal. Sure there have been many conflicts -- the Korean War, the Cold War, you-name-it -- but not another world war since the UN’s founding. Bad as the innumerable wars and nasty skirmishes that have gone on since the establishment of the UN in 1945 are, a third world war with the specter of a nuclear exchange would probably be the end. Now, though there is almost as much aspersion heaped on the UN as when President Wilson tried to start the first UN (called the League of Nations), it again is being called upon to solve an issue only it can solve. A successful Paris climate talk will not in and of itself solve Climate Change, just as the UN did not solve all world conflicts. But providing a platform where all nations meet and talk about Climate Change mitigation and find consensus in orchestrated agreements it can do. No other course of action has even a remote possibility of doing so.

In an otherwise important article “Why A New Study Thinks Next Year’s Climate Talks Won’t Keep The World Under 2°C” in Think Progress/Climate Progress, where a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) analysis predicts failure at the Paris talks, the writer includes a statement by a Paris 2015 contrarian. This article borders on the irresponsible, reminding me of Jon Oliver’s “statistically representative climate change debate.” From the study by MIT that the Paris Climate Talks will probably fail, the writer leaps to an interview with someone who says we don’t need this 2015 climate talk anyways: “We do not need a new international process to do this…”and we already have “The infrastructure already exists in other multilateral frameworks.”

It would have been more responsible for the writer to demand some evidence for these purported alternatives to the Paris 2015 talks. (And, maybe just for good measure, we might think about making those who dismiss and work against worldwide binding agreements accountable.) The truth is that after Paris 2015, there is no Plan B. If we cannot agree on a worldwide effort to mitigate Climate Change, we will be left trying to only adapt to the consequences of warming, and probably with little regard for those nations who did not cause Climate Change, who will be left to struggle with the consequences.

There are many ways we are going to have to accomplish fixing something as incredibly vast as bringing down GHG concentrations—and adapt to the inertia of warming already built up in our atmosphere and water since pre-industrial times. Clean energy; more efficient and less polluting transportation; quickly getting consumers to consider cradle-to-cradle design in their buying habits; a carbon tax, and much, much more will have to be implemented to adequately address Climate Change. But all of these actions must happen and they must happen in concert with the rest of the world or they’ll be ad hock and less than adequate for the situation—which is to say catastrophic.

Only a successful climate summit can compel governments and their peoples and their economies to comply with an orchestrated worldwide effort to bring GHG concentrations down. Nothing in our present economic system, or the religions of world, or even a major catastrophic event will get all seven billon of us on the same page. (Actually major catastrophes like 9/11 seem at least as likely to bring out the worst in our nature.] We cannot carbon capture or geoengineer ourselves out of Climate Change, because in many ways these ‘magic bullets’ will only enable us to dismiss the entire scope of Climate Change and continue on business as usual: buying more stuff, having more kids, and believing that there are no limits to our desires on a finite planet.

It is a Big Lie and it is irresponsible to suggest that because previous climate talks have failed, that because developed nations have refused to step up to the plate and lower their GHS and help those nations that did not cause this catastrophe in the past, that we must adopt plans that do little more than continue business as usual. So-called alternatives to Paris 2015 aren’t alternatives; they are deliberately sabotaging the only solution that will work for their own ideological and economic gain.

Adapting to and mitigating Climate Change in a way that sustains all life while striving to do so equitably is the defining issue of our time. How we comport ourselves during this historic trial by fire will reveal our true nature.

Lying to ourselves, looking for the quick-fix or the silver bullet, won’t solve an issue that has been building up for centuries due to overpopulation, overconsumption, and a great indifference to the workings of our life support system.

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