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There's some definite hype out there on the climate change mitigation front.   From Truthdig:

WARSAW—For the first time, all countries of the world have agreed to make contributions in cutting greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the planet’s temperature rising above the 2°C danger limit previously agreed by politicians.
Look!  It's a promise!  Made by politicians!  It is with deepest apologies to the optimists that I find myself in agreement with the Church Lady upon reading this news:

So at any rate, you get my point.  Let's take a look at yesterday's Green Diary list, shall we?

Ikea produces enough clean energy to match a third of its global energy use
Much as I appreciate VL Baker's reportage, I appreciate her skepticism more.  How carefully do you think they're reporting Ikea's actual energy usage?  Capitalism is incredibly wasteful, and world society uses more than 89 million barrels of oil every day.  I'm sure Ikea has invented a method of energy accounting that gives the corporate execs great PR.

And then we have Wisper's news: lots of coal mine and coal plant closings.  Maybe this is because other fossil fuel sources are being placed online?  And what guarantees do we have that those coal mines will stay closed?

A couple of days ago, boatsie told us that the NGOs walked out of the conference at Warsaw because the polluters have undue influence upon the proceedings.  Should this be a surprise?  

Meanwhile, the coal companies are hoping to stay in business via the newest techno-dream: carbon capture and storage.  As KGrandia points out, carbon capture and storage is risky as hell.

So Todd Gitlin, for his part, tells us we ought to divest from fossil fuels, and Michael Brune tells us they're developing "clean energy targets."  But the impression I get from all of this comes in the form of a question: why are all of these rich and powerful people trying to impress us so hard with the illusion that they care?  I'm not even convinced they understand.  I'm seeing a lot of eagerness to present "solutions" without sufficient apprehension of the real-life scale of the problem, and it looks clumsy as hell.  World society doesn't seem to have a clear picture of where it's going or what it's doing.  Public relations anyone?

Three facts dominate our climate change reality.

a) Capitalism is incredibly wasteful.  There is just simply no way that the world needs 89.3624 MILLION barrels/ day of crude oil, yet that's what the oil producers produced last year, and we can assume that nearly all of that was burned.  This excess is what we get with a system that favors the megalomania of property and profit, rather than the imperatives of global human and non-human survival as determined by the science of ecology.  Individual efforts at conservation, in a capitalist system, just mean that the fossil fuel producers get to sell more of their stuff to some other customer.  I'm sure there's a ton of room for real conservation, however -- just engineer the society so the fossil-fuel based global "markets" (aka transportation networks) disappear, and (as I've suggested in other diaries) change the society so that the fossil-fuel based unnecessary careers go away.  Or pass a law saying that the producers can't produce.  Oh, right.  Capitalism.

b) To really mitigate climate change, we have to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.  This isn't reported a lot, but it's true.  Bill McKibben mentioned it briefly in his Rolling Stone piece.  Alternative energy is nice, but it does nothing to halt the megalomania of property and profit that motivates the fossil fuel business.  Conservation and efficiency are nice, but the same principle applies.  Cap-and-trade systems are nice -- for the speculators, who profit while the carbon emissions continue to accelerate.  Carbon taxes are nice -- but the oil companies will try to circumvent them, the nation-states will see the financial advantages in keeping them low so they can get special privileges from oil companies who "naturally" want to sell fossil fuels, and if the world economy screams loudly enough and the oil companies buy enough politicians, when will the carbon taxes be removed?  Want to do something real? Keep the grease in the ground.  Try an international treaty to phase out fossil fuel production.

c) Climate change is just one aspect of a general global ecological/ economic/ political crisis.  A lot of these solutions assume a sort of ceteris paribus -- "if all things remain the same."  The problem with our "solutions," then, is that all things don't remain the same, and until we can change our economic system in some fundamental ways, the future will be one of increasing crisis.  As David Harvey reminds us in his many books, the crises can be moved around from place to place, but they won't go away.

To sum up: all of the optimistic press releases about climate change now look like PR, we don't seem to know what we're doing with climate change, and the social change requirements for climate change mitigation appear quite daunting.  So, below the macaroni, and as a sort of parlor game, I will suggest some statistical measurements that will give us an idea of whether or not what we're doing has any effect.

In light of these challenges, a lot of what we read about global warming mitigation is going to seem like mere hype.  But we need a solution nonetheless.  So what I am proposing is that we develop realistic statistical measurements, by which climate change mitigation solutions can be assessed.  Here are three possible statistical measurements:

#1: World-society adds 2.3 parts per million of carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere each year.  A statistical measurement of carbon dioxide mitigation (for this we'll use the algebraic figure "CO2M") would assess precisely how much of that 2.3 ppm/ year is being reduced (given the sum total of all of the human race's mitigation activities).

#2: Since we need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, we'll need a "ground measurement" (for this we'll use the algebraic figures "G1," "G2," and "G3," measured in barrels of oil, tons of coal and tar sands, and cubic feet of natural gas) which would measure how much of the Earth's remaining fossil fuel endowment will stay in the ground when world-society is eventually finished with its use of fossil fuels (given the sum total of all of our mitigation activities).

#3: Since fossil fuel emissions are accelerating, we can use an "acceleration ratio" (A (year)/ A (2012)) to determine how much our mitigation activities have cut into the acceleration rate of global carbon dioxide production, using the carbon dioxide production of the year 2012 as the base standard.

The climate scientists ought to love this stuff.  They're scientists -- they like numbers.  So I'm sure this has been done before, in a different form, by someone else.  Keep in mind that if our data show that measures #1 and #2 are going to be "0" while measure #3 is going to be "1", then we can say with scientific certainty that our global warming mitigation activities are not going to accomplish anything.  Such a result will be far better than what we have now, when we're being asked to believe in a lot of hype with no real result on the horizon.  If our data reveal other figures, however, then maybe we are getting somewhere with climate change.  How else would we know?  In the comments section below, feel free to invent your own statistical measurements.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Everything seems to be up in the air at this point (28+ / 0-)

    “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:19:15 AM PST

  •  The Anti-Capitalist Climate Change Union is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker, FG, limpidglass, blueoasis

    detrimental to achieving even a modicum of progress. Why add an equally insurmountable task, conquering capitalism, to the monumental task of solving climate change?

    “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Richard Nixon, 1977.

    by Kvetchnrelease on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:23:03 AM PST

    •  Well OK. (10+ / 0-)

      What counts as a "modicum of progress"?  Do we measure it by public relations press releases?  Or would you like to do something real?

      Take a look at the statistical measurements of climate change mitigation I outlined.  Do you seriously think you're going to get ANY climate change mitigation without serious change to our economic system?  And if so, how?  Are we all just to pretend we're doing something?

      “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:27:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (8+ / 0-)

      Why? Because capitalism and climate change are inextricably linked in an embrace to death. We cannot keep capitalism and respond rationally to global ecocide. Capitalism is a parasite to the Earth.

      "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

      by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:30:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Solving climate change... (11+ / 0-)

      ...without addressing an economic system predicated on notions of infinite growth and exploitation on a finite planet?

      That's like "solving diabetes" without addressing eating habits.

      Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

      by WarrenS on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:33:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  exactly. it's easy to complain about the things (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      engine17

      you can't change; alleviates responsibility.  more difficult the make the changes and be part of the solution.  how really realistic is it to conquer capitalism at this point?  now green capitalism that's a realistic goal we all need to be a part of.  

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:34:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Green capitalism is an oxymoron (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, gooderservice, triv33, NoMoreLies

        Green capitalism? You think that rejecting capitalism is difficult? Well then my question is, how do you propose to “green” capitalism? How do we capitalize natural resource preservation and restoration? How do you make fascist, ideologically rigid transnational corporations assume the costs of environmental destruction on the scale we have? How do you persuade a consumption-drunk public to accept the pass through of those costs? How do you convince capitalist investors that they need to get behind a radical economic shrinkage? Because all of these things and more will be requisite, and they are, it seems to me, not as possible as simply fighting for a systemic change and winning.

        "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

        by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:51:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so much... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VL Baker

          Green capitalism will work just like regular capitalism, and for the same reason. There are fortunes to be made, and they will be made as alternative energy beats fossil energy on price.

          •  Fortunes to be made (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus, JesseCW, triv33

            And when these fortunes are being made, how accountable will these mythical new green capitalists be? How much more likely will they be to respond to me, when I perceive problems, than the Exxonauts of today?

            "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:15:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Green done right... (0+ / 0-)

              The green capitalists will be busy crushing fossil fuel companies, and probably won't be much more accountable than Exonn is now, but their central business model will involve fixing CO2 instead of emitting it.

        •  we're already working toward 'green capitalism' (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limpidglass, Kombema

          and with some success..not enough yet but it takes work and commitment and ACTION by everyone.  if you're not part of solution...you know the rest.

          First you have to green and reduce your consumption..then get involved with divestment, political action campaigns etc.

          Macca's Meatless Monday

          by VL Baker on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:04:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Find me a model, show me an example please (6+ / 0-)

            A capitalist who advocates reduced consumption? Divestment? Decentralization ( not to mention the unmentionable public ownership ) of energy production and transmission? These things are anathema to energy capitalists. How can you reconcile this?

            "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:10:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Technology and capitalism (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VL Baker, limpidglass, Kombema

              There are thousands of engineers and scientists working on reduced consumption every day. They work for capitalist ventures in every segment of the economy with the possible exception of the oil industry.

              The capitalist fossil fuel and petrochemical industries are not going to die because the world's population decides it does not want nice things like food, water and medical care. The fossil industries are going to die because they will be crushed by capitalists selling alternatives which will be cheaper and cleaner.

      •  Agree and disagree. (8+ / 0-)
        more difficult the make the changes and be part of the solution.
        Right -- which is why it's easier to create a "green" public relations machine while consuming resources, the planet, and society.
        how really realistic is it to conquer capitalism at this point?
        Well, it's not realistic if we're not out there creating alternatives to "market participation."  Despair is easy if you really weren't planning to do anything anyway.  Here's a question for you: how realistic is it to mitigate climate change while leaving the oil companies untouched in their power and wealth?  How realistic is it to maintain a system which imagines both society and nature to be a "free gift" for the taking by an investor class, while pretending that such a system is going to do something real about climate change?
        now green capitalism that's a realistic goal we all need to be a part of.
        All of us?  Even those of us who do not have access to capital, and who are going to be mere workers?

        Or are we talking about the "realism" of people such as Paul Hawken, writer of those "green capitalism" books, who sold his business to Scotts, and whose brand is now in the possession of low-wage-paying Target?

        “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

        by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:57:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  see my comment above....and focus on (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus, Kombema

          solutions and goals...

          Macca's Meatless Monday

          by VL Baker on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:09:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are solutions and goals (6+ / 0-)

            Very proactive ones. Realistic ones. They require the socialization of natural resources and energy. All of them.

            "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:12:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  This is precisely the point of my diary. (4+ / 0-)

            The only way to focus upon solutions and goals, I argue, is to have a statistical measurement of progress toward those goals.

            The first thing that needs to be done is that a demand needs to be made, that we retreat from fossil-fuel-based sources of capital in the way pointed by 350.org and the divestment movement and (especially) McKibben's piece in Rolling Stone.

            Next we need to "green" the class struggle.  I call it the class struggle because it has to be a class struggle -- the insanity of capital and of social classes in this era is what caused our problem with climate change, and it has to be addressed from below with a mass movement oriented toward decent lives for all.   The form of environmentalism that will help, as I pointed out in an earlier diary, is that outlined by Joan Martinez-Alier -- the environmentalism of the poor, which encompasses the environmental justice movement and global indigenous environmentalisms.

            Then we need to create alternatives to market participation for all.  "Green capitalism" is only going to provide a veneer of green-ness for the captains of our global Titanic, capitalism, while leaving out those who can't afford to pay.

            Oh, sure, there has to be an electoral effort -- and a willingness to dump the Democrats if they aren't willing to go along, which will be recommended nowhere here.

            “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

            by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:36:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I'd say it's much easier to pretend that (4+ / 0-)

        evangelizing the vegan religion can somehow stop ongoing global warming than it is to confront, head on, the undeniable fact that there simply are no capitalist solutions capable of actually reversing the trend.

        There is no set of white collar "consumer actions" that will stop our military from producing more greenhouse gasses per year than most nations.

        You've long made it clear that capitalism has served you rather well, but it's killing this planet.  Your imitation meatballs don't heat homes without producing carbon.

        "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:17:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's rather like saying that seeking to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus

      lower your cholesterol complicates the task of trying to avoid a heart attack.

      "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:13:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It follows from the ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, TheMomCat, NoMoreLies

      ... conclusion that the capitalist system as it presently exists is not capable of leaving the grease in the ground.

      Whether all systems that might be called capitalist would share that incapacity, and to what extent a mixed system can include some form of capitalist elements without sharing that incapacity ... those are points that can be discussed.

      But if the existing system cannot do what we need it to do, then the need to supplant it with a system that can follows directly.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:52:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think, as usual, that you make some... (8+ / 0-)

    ...very good points and I agree with many of them.

    But it's hardly any revelation that the fossil-fuel industry is filled with liars with their hands on the PR tiller.

    Nor is it news that, globally, we're burning more coal and natural gas and oil than every before. Not a global warming activist I know isn't fully aware of that fact.

    But alternative energy sources ARE making inroads, something that could not be said even a decade ago. And the growth curve for them is steep. Certainly, it's not fast enough, which is why so many activists have been pushing for more of them.

    This is a good idea. Indeed, it should be the point of the Paris talks:

    Keep the grease in the ground.  Try an international treaty to phase out fossil fuel production.
    But what is the realistic doable path you propose to reach this end?

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:35:18 AM PST

    •  The problem with alternative energy . . . (7+ / 0-)

      proposals, for capitalists, is that every single one of them that makes sense, that is just, involves decentralization. This is the big battle now in Germany, where I live. The technology and the industrial means to decentralize energy production and transmission exists, but the power companies of course don't want to give up control. Amory Lovins has got the answer — technologically. But the capitalist ownership of energy will fight the implementation to the death.

      "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

      by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:57:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Alternative energy -- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Evoculture, JesseCW

        is something we do for ourselves.  Closing down fossil fuel production is something we do for the planet.

        “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

        by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:19:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  fighting climate change IS something we do (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Evoculture, Meteor Blades

          for ourselves.

          "The planet" will be just fine no matter what happens. A new equilibrium will be established--a post-human one--and new species will proliferate in the new ecosystem. For us, it will be hellish. For them, it will be home.

          It's hubris to suggest that we have put Earth in danger. What we have put in danger is the particular ecological configuration that gave rise to humanity.

          This planet has seen countless species come and go, and all of human civilization is less than the blink of an eye in geological time. When all is done, all the sound and fury of human history will make less noise than the fall of a single snowflake.

          No, we can't "save the planet." But we can save ourselves.

          Saving the beauty and diversity of species is a nice bonus, but really the struggle against climate change is a self-interested one.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:41:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with you (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW, NoMoreLies

            It's a very profound and beautiful perspective, but don't you wish we could be a different part of evolution, not a plague species that effected wrenching adaptations to ecological  catastrophe, but a species that could take pride in its humility, because of its enhanced awareness of its power? Wouldn't that be a more beautiful story than this grotesque proliferation and crash?

            "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:54:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Of course, just as they have been since... (5+ / 0-)

        ...I worked at the Solar Energy Research Institute when the Department of Energy made its first modest forays into spreading alternative energy (at a time when solar cells cost $76 per watt as opposed to the less than $1 a watt now). It's a battle against exceedingly powerful entrenched interests which, until recently, had the media giving their propaganda equal (or better) play than that of those who have been sounding the alarm since 1988.

        Are we up to that fight? We shall find out. All I can say is that we had better be.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:19:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My fear (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, ZhenRen

          My fear is that when we are up to the fight, when we reach critical mass, it will be too late. Selfishly, I am thankful that I am probably too old to suffer it myself, but I look at young people and I cringe at how they will perish and how they will shame us in posterity.

          "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:23:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm in this fight for my children and... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VL Baker, Kombema

            ...grandchildren.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:25:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fight to the end (0+ / 0-)

              And your grandchildren and any who survive beyond will hold you in the highest regard and take inspiration from you.

              "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

              by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:36:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Suffering (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Evoculture, Meteor Blades, NoMoreLies

            Don't fool yourself.  Climate change is happening now and we all are suffering from it.  Year by year, we will all feel it more.  I've heard renowned climate scientists talk about how they will not live long enough to feel the effects of climate change and am always astonished that they can't understand that it is not only our children or grandchildren who will feel the ravages but those of us alive now who are already experiencing it.

            I suspect by 2020 we will see a practically summer ice free Arctic and the results will be, in all likelihood, catastrophic.  Does the actuarial table say you have a good chance of living till then, given your present age?  If so, please stop passing the suffering to future generations.  They will have quite enough suffering of their own.  Our suffering will only increase year by year - even if we eliminate all new greenhouse gas emissions NOW, even if we start removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere with ecological system design solutions TODAY.  We can lessen future suffering and possibly eliminate climate change even during my remaining lifetime (say twenty years more) if we're wise enough and determined enough but we can't do it by passing even the possibility of suffering on to our progeny.

            Tag, we're it and we shouldn't forget it.

            •  I think you're right (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gmoke, JesseCW, Kombema, NoMoreLies

              But I believe that young people will confront a world unimaginably more difficult and frightening than mine has been. I lived much of my adult life in "the sweet spot": the explosion of social and civil emancipation of the 60s and 70s, platform shoes(!), relatively low stress participating in the economy. Now I want to be of service, to help young people who have to confront these epic battles that we cannot even envision. It's a tall order. I'm not sure how. I just put one foot in front of the other.

              "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

              by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 12:10:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  MB all I was proposing here -- (4+ / 0-)

      was that we set up statistical measurements of climate change mitigation that do not oblige us to pay ritual homage to climate change public relations.  Let's find out how much progress we're REALLY making.

      I suppose I ought to focus more on diaries which emphasize cultural alternatives to capitalism.  This seems to be the aspect of my argument which my audience has the hardest time comprehending.  The anarchists and Occupiers and community garden advocates and Zapatistas and MST advocates are all pointing in the right direction.  The point is to withdraw from participation in systems of market dependency, and to go back to living off of the land.  And for the more complex necessities?  Look at what the Cubans are doing in education, in agriculture, in medicine.  

      "Realists" insist that we have a choice of paths by which we're doomed, and that we can "get around this" feeling of impending doom by pretending really hard that public-relations efforts to mitigate climate change will be our salvation.  Oh and the "realists" are SO scared that the people will elect Republicans that they're willing to elect people whose solidarity with Republican policies is somewhere significantly above the 75% range.  How thin does the soup have to get before the "realists" admit that they were wrong-footed from the start?

      No revolution ever started off with a blueprint.

      “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:15:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I always find this argument to be circular (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus
      But what is the realistic doable path you propose to reach this end?
      The approaches deemed "realistic" by the self-described realists always fall short of producing enough significant change to save us from the brink, while the approaches which would be sweeping enough to work are always dismissed as "unrealistic".

      Which creates an inescapable double bind that could doom us to ruin.

      Maybe the solutions that would work, no matter how "unacceptable" to the capitalist status quo, should not be swatted down so often, no matter how impossible achieving agreement may seem at present.  

      There is no harm in starkly defining the problem, in laying out solutions that are necessary to actually make an impact, no matter how improbable it may be to win acceptance from the ruling class. If the labor protesters thought an 8 hour workday was too much to ask, and they argued instead for a twelve hour workday, they would have failed. Compromising in advance is the worst form of tactic in negotiation.

      We must always define the problem, and starkly define what the best solutions may be, and continue to do so throughout the ongoing dialogue, because failing to do that simply engenders a submissive attitude to Power, allowing Power to set the boundaries and limits of debate.

      We must break out of the circular logic that has put us in the double bind. Never stop voicing what is really going on, which is that we are failing to address the root causes of the problem sufficiently to pull us from the abyss.

      To accept the circular, self-justifying logic that we can't make more sweeping changes just keeps the cycle of failure going.

      Activists in our era have become too staid and far too willing to kowtow to the ignorance.

      So go ahead and take the incremental route, if that is your preference according to your grasp of the situation. But why be so dismissive of people who frame the situation as it really is (speaking of realism)? Is there no value at all in being more explicit? What is it that prompts the defensiveness? Are you afraid too many people will be dissuaded from following the course of supporting the snail pace of change by working within the system? If so, this is why I call it circular reasoning. If people rose up, we could break the deadlock. But if you keep telling them that path won't work, you may be tempering the very resistance movement some of us believe is necessary to have an impact.

      Did you predict Occupy? Of course not (sheesh, most here probably privately laughed at any possibility an anarchic movement would have ever had such success in getting the "1%" to become an international meme in mainstream media), and likewise you can't predict future behavior.

      So, while you are taking the "realistic" and "practical" and "acceptable" approach (which you are certainly welcome to continue), why spend effort being so dismissive of people who call for stronger action?

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 10:57:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Straight-forward measurement (5+ / 0-)

    This would not sit well with the PR machines, either of the corporations or likely of many of the environmental agencies who are too often motivated by justifying their existence.  Who wants to contribute money to a group whose own statistics reveal that they are failing?  Any anyway, it seems to be widely believed that humans would crumble into despair if confronted with the harsh truth.  Better to keep everything cheerful.

    It's me driving a Prius
    And I feel fine.

    Such a grounded, work-a-day unyielding measurement of current reality would, in fact, be in violent conflict with the zeitgeist of our time.  It is not pure coincidence that I come directly from another diary in which I was commenting at length on the need to, quoting Pinter, "define the real truth of our lives".

    It is a terrific idea.  I wish I could see people applying such objective measure to the performance of the Obama administration, a measurement such as what is happening to the concentration of wealth and power on his watch.  This may seem at first to be a change of subject, but the fact is that one of the main reasons we are very unlikely to see wide-spread reporting of such realistic measurements is precisely that a few wealthy people exert inordinate control over the public discussion.

    Well done.

    Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

    by geomoo on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:41:00 AM PST

  •  There is No More Time to First Change the Eco- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    limpidglass, NoMoreLies

    nomic system before we can seriously address climate change, than there is time to change the political system into something that is as responsive to the people and to society as our mythology deludes us into thinking our present system is.

    Those are both noble objectives but there is less than no prayer of achieving either one before most of today's human population is driven into a megadeath bottleneck.

    The only force in society capable of forcing the amount of change science says is needed, in the timeframe science says must be met, is top global ownership.

    If we can assemble a sufficient faction of ownership that's willing to fight to minimize the scale of catastrophe we're building, that's the only realistic chance for most of the people and their would-be descendents.

    I don't see that ownership would agree to preserve democracy or to abandon capitalism. I don't see that in any scenario that meets the time frame.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:44:03 AM PST

    •  Look at it the other way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, JesseCW

      There is no possibility of changing the race to ecological catastrophe until we change the economic system. Take a systems approach:
      - Capitalism is predicated on economic growth
      - Economic growth destroys the Earth
      - Earth's restoration depends on economic shrinkage
      - Shrinkage requires the abandonment of capitalism

      "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

      by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:04:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kombema

        You get one out of three...

        1. I don't understand economics well enough to understand why this must be true, but I accept it is probably correct.

        2. Economic growth does not have to destroy the Earth; assuming it must rejects the concept of progress. If you looked at the air in Pittsburgh 100 years ago, you would have assumed that if we kept using steel in society, the smokestack emissions would reduce visibility worldwide to a few feet by 2013. Our air quality sucks, but most days, most places, you can see across the street. Technology is coming that will allow economic activity with much less damage to the biosphere.

        3. The economic shrinkage you hope for will not just get Hummvees off the road. Many will starve, and most of what modern medicine offers will be gone. This is where I think post-capitalists go off the rails. yes, industrial society makes a mountain of worthless crap, but it also provides a quality of life (think food, water, sanitation and medical care) not likely to be available post-capitalism.

        4. I think the storage part of CCS is worthless; the valuable paradigm is carbon re-use, and the technology is on the way. http://www.youtube.com/... Green capitalism has the potential to make carbon air capture on a huge scale possible because it could become profitable in an economy that re-uses its carbon rather than using the atmosphere as a toilet. The green sector of the economy can be a net consumer of CO2, and expanding that green sector will accelerate CO2 consumption.

        •  That would be a miracle if we could get CC to a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          engine17

          point where it is profitable on a large scale. I agree that the storage is generally a fool's errand, with perhaps limited, regional exceptions. Here's to making the pollutant something people want to keep and seek, rather than flush into the atmosphere.

          "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

          by Kombema on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:31:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Capitalist System that we have at present ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies

        ... is predicated on not just economic growth, but on material growth.

        Economic growth in general does not necessarily destroy the earth. However, the type of economic growth that does not destroy the earth is pure technical progress, and pure technical progress does not proceed in a relentless, quarter by quarter fashion, but rather proceeds in waves, with period of more rapid technical progress followed by periods of little or not substantial technical progress.

        Indeed, just as we once split productivity growth between wage income and profit income, if we had institutions that allowed it, we could split technical progress between economic growth and material shrinkage, so that economic growth does not necessarily have to be abandoned in order to have material contraction.

        But the system we have built requires that relentless, quarter by quarter growth that pure technical progress cannot provide.

        And, indeed, when agents in our system gain wealth due to technical progress, one of the things that can be done with that wealth is to gain command over material resources to leverage technical progress into accelerated material expansion. Which is exactly the opposite of what would have to happen in a hypothetical system in which part of the gains of pure technical progress economic growth were invested into material contraction.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 05:04:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Top global ownership has no interest. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kombema

      They're fine with billions of people dying, and confident there will still be nice enough places for them to live.

      "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:25:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I didn't see mention of human population (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Evoculture, JesseCW, Kombema, NoMoreLies

    limitation and eventual reduction as a means of climate change mitigation.

    No matter what we do, if population is allowed to reach 10 billion, we're screwed.


    "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

    by Pescadero Bill on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:13:55 AM PST

    •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

      For uttering the unmentionable. You're right, 100%. Even if our "ecofootprint" were reduced 50% ( talk about unrealistic ), 10 billion is still way too many. And while we're at it, out right to "occupy" every continent of the Earth, every environment, should be challenged as well. We're an invasive species. A superior intelligence would set bounty hunters against us!

      "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

      by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:19:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it will not reach 10 billion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kombema, NoMoreLies

      we will get a pandemic, I think, that will cut it down.

      The human population is an enormous concentration of growth medium, and once it reaches a certain density, the right microorganism will come along and gobble up all that food.

      Our agricultural practices (mass farming of livestock in dirty, overcrowded factories), air travel, our constant intrusions into new ecosystems, which expose us to new and unknown microbes--all of these favor the emergence of novel pathogens.

      The Black Death took out a third of the human race. That was before the modern era of air travel. Imagine what such a disease would do now.

      There are two things that tend to happen to populations that grow too large--either resource scarcity, resulting in a crash. Or an epidemic, resulting in a crash.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:54:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Likely to be some Malthusian combo of war, famine (0+ / 0-)

        and pestilence, sad to say. As the resources grow short, deliberate human slaughter will take over. We need some freakin' techno miracles. Soon.

        "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        by Kombema on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:35:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good job! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, JesseCW

    Hey you've done a great job here, got a good discussion going with lots of valuable input and feedback. Thanks for the diary!

    "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

    by Evoculture on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:38:25 AM PST

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