|hey BV - global warming = global bankruptcy||MJ|
Jun 19, 2002 8:12 AM
Disasters waiting to happen
The social and economic costs of global warming will block all progress in the developing world
Wednesday June 19, 2002
As the US finally concedes that global warming is happening, dramatic new data is emerging on the impact of "natural" disasters. Neither rich nor poor countries can escape. But the biggest question raised is for the developing world. After a decade of UN conferences designed to end poverty and save the world, disasters driven by global warming are causing catastrophe for the poor majority and political and economic insecurity for the rest.
Although the number of people killed by disasters has fallen by more than half over the past three decades, the number affected - a definition which includes being injured or made homeless - has grown enormously. According to the World Disasters Report, it is up from 740 million in the 1970s to more than two billion in the past decade (these figures include some double counting due to people being repeatedly affected). Reported economic losses, calculated at current values, have risen from $131bn in the 1970s to $629bn in the 1990s. Actual losses are greater. The number of reported disasters rose from 1,110 to 2,742 in the period.
In regions such as Oceania in the past 30 years, the number affected has increased 65-fold. Yet in all the international political efforts to agree targets for reducing poverty and protecting the environment - now focused on the so-called millennium development goals - no one has taken serious account of the increasing impact of disasters. Heads of state will go to Johannesburg this summer to make the millennium goals a reality. They include doubling the proportion of people with access to drinking water by 2015, halving absolute poverty and improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. But without modelling the impact of disasters, this is wishful thinking. The Bangladesh centre for advanced studies calculates that every dollar invested in the country is absorbed by the cost of dealing with predictable disasters.
It would also be a mistake for industrialised countries to think they can weather the storms. The disasters boomerang will hit the rich world in a number of ways. Insurance firms are backing away from providing cover to the one in 10 British households prone to flooding. Long-term projections from big insurers, such as CGNU, suggest that the upward curve of economic damage from global warming will overtake gross world product by 2065, effectively bankrupting the global economy. Serious destabilisation is likely well before that date. Environmental refugees now outstrip in number political refugees. An estimated 25 million people are displaced by environmental causes, more than double the 12 million political refugees. They are proving such a contentious issue that the UN high commissioner for refugees does not want them to have international legal status requiring protection. Where global warming-driven disasters are forcing people to flee their homes, responsibility falls heavily on rich countries whose greenhouse gas emissions have largely created the problem. Their challenge is to provide financial and technical support, and to create protective status for environmental refugees.
There has been no global assessment of the number likely to be displaced by a rise in sea level of half a metre to one metre, both possible in the foreseeable future. Following such a rise, millions would be displaced in countries across the developing world such as Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt and Guyana. At least five island nations would become uninhabitable. These include the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, which, frustrated by international inaction, are seeking legal assistance to take the world's biggest polluters to court.
There has also been no global asses
|re: hey BV - global warming = global bankruptcy||BikeViking|
Jun 19, 2002 11:14 AM
|For the sake of argument, let's assume that the above article is true. Were this truly the case, how come EVERY nation is not expected to lower emissions to prevent the coming meteorological calamity? China, India and Russia are getting a pass. Certain nations get a pass and I wonder why that is?
There is no doubt there is more C02 in the atmosphere. The effect of this increased C02 is what's in question. With the earth's climate being a HUGE variable in this debate, how can anyone conclusively say that it's caused by man and not by natural flucuations in the Earth's temperature cycle.
I know it's anecdotal, but I remember the alarmists in the 70's talking about the coming "Second Ice Age". Suffice to say, I am pretty skeptical of the Chicken Little syndrome.
|Reducing emissions does not equal global bankruptcy||Stampertje|
Jun 19, 2002 12:46 PM
Aside from the fact that most scientists agree that man has a significant effect on climate change, it's clear that pollution has very significant local effects - smog, health problems, land and water quality, etc.
A lot of measures to control pollution (including CO2) are either low impact or, in the long run, cost effective (energy saving comes to mind). The only reason they are not being implemented is that they require initial investments. Governement incentives could help overcome that barrier. Other changes require mentality changes - not letting your engine run while running into the post office, switching off lights in rooms you don't use, setting the AC to 68 instead of 65 in Summer, sorting recyclables...
In the light of this, why are so many people so vehemently opposed to measures to control human waste in the broadest sense of the word?
And more urgently: the only way to be absolutely certain that humans are destroying the planet is when it's already done - and that's too late. The risk of seriously compromising the habitability of the planet by ignoring the warnings, in my mind, weighs far heavier than the risk of taking action that turns out to be unnecessary. The latter option, at the least, should lead to more durable technology *and* economy (less dependent on the energy market), and cleaner air to boot.
My 2 euro-cents
|Reducing emissions does not equal global bankruptcy||BikeViking at home|
Jun 19, 2002 5:29 PM
|Don't mistake my disdain for Kyoto/global warming myth as a lover of pollution. I agree with many of the things you said...i just don't believe in hamstringing our economy for the questionable benefit of reducing CO2. THere are plenty of respected climatologists who indicate to the contrary. We can't even prove that it's because of human activity. THe planet does quite a good job of polluting itself also (Mt. Pinatubo) and cleaning itself up. No one can conclusively point to human activity as the cause in this miniscule increase in mean global temps.|
|best bet: reduce emissions||weiwentg|
Jun 19, 2002 10:01 PM
|a large group of people can be wrong, definitely. but often enough they're right. if most scientists agree that global warming exists and we contribute to it, it would be irresponsible not to act to stop it. and it would be short-sighted to just wave our hands and point to the economy.
developing countries get the 'breaks', so to speak, because they haven't industrialized. without critiquing how sensible this is yet, you will note that holding them to strict ecological standards would hold their growth back - and it would mean that they would never catch up to the West. in essence, not giving them breaks would be to say 'the world cannot afford your modernization, ours has sucked it dry!'
the sensible solution is to distribute ecologically-friendly technologies to all nations, and for the developed nations (which account for the vast majority of emissions) to reduce their emissions. is this utopian? of course it is, which is why it's not going to happen (yet). another solution is the creation of global institutions and laws that would impartially enforce sound environmental policies, while simultaneously allowing economic development. is this utopian? see above.
ask a Green, and you would likely hear that capitalism ought to be done away with. perhaps in time our world will move away from capitalism. it is a flawed system, but is not necessarily a bad one for a small population. capitalism in its current incarnation could turn out to be a disaster for the world's six billion people. as I said, perhaps in time humanity will find a solution, another form of government/economics that will solve the problem of the environment and social equality (issues which are linked for many Greens).
|best bet: reduce emissions||BikeViking|
Jun 20, 2002 4:35 AM
|We'll have to agree to disagree because I can name as many, and equally qualified, experts to say that global warming is a big myth. On the other hand, it's not an excuse to stop alternative fuel research. I would love nothing better than to tell the Saudi's to stick it. We can only do that when we don't need their oil anymore.
I don't think Russia, China and India count as nations that haven't industrialized. They have a Kyoto "pass", which tells me it's more about economics than science. This small warming has extended crop growing seasons a bit, helping feed the world. and I think the people in Canada and Siberia appreciate any warming, however slight.
The world is always going to be full of the Haves and the Have Nots. THis pie-in -the-sky utopia (Communism)thing was tried by the USSR and failed miserably. These die-hard Commies never give up, do they? Why anyone thinks a govenment bureaucrat (much less an international group of bureaucrats) is going to solve their problems is nonsense. There is this attitude that we are exempt from the lessons of world history. Humankind has not changed much and just because we think we are more "enlightened" means nothing. People have been people for the last 2000 years and things haven't changed much.
For example, it has been 11 years since Tailhook. We have undergone NUMEROUS training sessions about sexual harassment, but we still have Lt Cols thinking its OK to have sex with their subordinates. Some people just don't get it and they never will
|best bet: reduce emissions||Stampertje|
Jun 20, 2002 8:38 AM
|Hmm... as for the tally of experts on both sides of the debate, I don't have any actual numbers so I'll agree to disagree there. Anyway, a theory has not been fully accepted until it's last antagonist has passed away (quote from a famous scientist, but I forgot who). |
However, the extended crop argument falls through once you take a look at the equatorial regions. Drought and rising temperatures have definitely led to harsher circumstances and crop loss, even if bad governement and civil wars have had an even greater effect.
And if people never learn, that's no reason to stop teaching them. Apres nous le soleil? I don't hope so. I hope that those who do get it will, in the end, outnumber those who don't.
|emissions in Europe||weiwentg|
Jun 20, 2002 9:24 AM
|Stampertje, I'd assume you're European from your nick (sorry if I'm wrong). what's being done there to live up to Kyoto?|
|Pissing on Americans, mostly :)||Stampertje|
Jun 20, 2002 12:03 PM
|Most European nations don't do as much as they would have you believe. Still, in the Netherlands, all political parties at least agree to adhere to Kyoto - reduction of greenhouse gases of 6% with respect to 1990. All but one (the third largest) agree that an "eco-tax" should be levied on mass consumers of energy, i.e. industry, either at national or at European level. As to how this reduction should primarily be achieved the parties differ - some promote solar panels and wind turbine parks, others want to keep open the Dutch nuclear power plant (specifically, those parties who will make up the new governement after last month's elections) and add measures taken in projects in developing countries. |
In the (recent) past, tax incentives have already been used to promote conservation and alternative energy. Individuals can already get subsidies for placing wind turbines on their land, there's a cash back bonus on efficient appliances (refrigerators, washing machines etc.). Gasoline is heavily taxed and there used to be (and may still be) a ~US$ 1,000 tax bonus on new "3-liter" cars (cars that get more than 78mpg). Pollution will certainly be limited by quota - this is already done in agriculture. A "regulating energy tax" or ecotax already exists on conventional energy, which in effect also promotes solar energy (since solar energy can be produced locally, it is in fact impossible to tax). The now demissionary coalition had set goals of 3% of consumed energy to be from alternative sources, and 10% by 2002.
Also, citizens are encouraged to use energy responsibly. Drivers are taught to switch off their engines even at railway crossings, let alone in the parking lot (they're also taught to always look out for cyclists). Lights are switched off in empty buildings, and consumers can choose to stimulate their energy providers to provide them with "green" energy (wind/water/sun generated energy) - and do. Public transportation is strongly promoted, although that has more to do with limiting road congestion than with energy policies.
Are we doing enough? I don't think so. I particularly believe that limiting CO2 production in other countries is a very shortsighted solution. Eventually they will need to limit their own CO2 production and send us back to square one. And a 6% reduction is a joke - most of it will in fact be reached through innovative bookkeeping. In the end, everybody will have to limit their personal energy consumption, and I'm not sure how that's going to happen.
|best bet: reduce emissions||weiwentg|
Jun 20, 2002 9:23 AM
|> We'll have to agree to disagree because I can name as many, and equally qualified, experts to say that global warming is a big myth. On the other hand, it's not an excuse to stop alternative fuel research. I would love nothing better than to tell the Saudi's to stick it. We can only do that when we don't need their oil anymore.
perhaps we will. but this thing needs to be settled with a debate in an international forum. and of course, I'd be an idiot not to agree on the alternative fuel research bit.
> don't think Russia, China and India count as nations that haven't industrialized. They have a Kyoto "pass", which tells me it's more about economics than science. This small warming has extended crop growing seasons a bit, helping feed the world. and I think the people in Canada and Siberia appreciate any warming, however slight.
they are only partially industrialized; their standard of living is far below that of the US. frankly, we cannot afford, with our current level of technology, to have everyone live at US standards. that would be instant ruin. and I can tell you that Singapore, Bangladesh, and a lot of islands in the Pacific would not appreciate global warming in the slightest.
> The world is always going to be full of the Haves and the Have Nots. THis pie-in -the-sky utopia (Communism)thing was tried by the USSR and failed miserably...
maybe, maybe not. currently, you only see capitalism as a valid economic system because you're not aware of an alternative valid system. my prediction is that humanity as a whole must develop some sort of alternative system, if we are to ensure global economic and social justice. we could go without that, and stick with capitalism. in my view, the result is one or both of ecological disaster and rampant social injustice. and humanity has not changed as much as we would like, but I think it has changed more than you think.
at the same time, a mistake many leftists make is that they assume human nature is more malleable than it is. I'm no behaviorist, but a lot of our behavior is semi-hard wired. of course the opposite mistake is made by the conservatives: they think human behavior is more hard-wired than it is.
> For example, it has been 11 years since Tailhook. We have undergone NUMEROUS training sessions about sexual harassment, but we still have Lt Cols thinking its OK to have sex with their subordinates. Some people just don't get it and they never will
perhaps ... but if they were raised with more enlightened values from birth, what then? or even if they started in adolescence? it's only some people. I think.
|best bet: reduce emissions||BikeViking|
Jun 21, 2002 5:20 AM
|To fix these world problems of "global economic and social injustice" there would have to be a world governing body with enforcement powers to ensure this happens. Sounds like world government to me and I am adamantly opposed to ANYTHING that that usurps national sovereignty of any lawfully elected nation.
Capitalism brings out the best (and sometimes worst) of humanity. We all benefit from its productivity and ingenuity. We alos have laws to deal with those who choose to act unlawfully. Cannot foresee any system that can replace the initiative and responsibilty of capitalism.
Who decides what is "enlightened"? That is a parental responsiblity and wopuld certainly hope the gov't stays out of that.
|best bet: reduce emissions||weiwentg|
Jun 21, 2002 6:58 AM
|> To fix these world problems of "global economic and social injustice" there would have to be a world governing body with enforcement powers
we ALL have responsibilities to one another. if that means abrogating some sovereignty, then I say so be it. in any case, I don't think most leftists believe in a monolithic world government. what is probably best is a loose confederation of local governments, ruling in something more like the classic Greek sense of a democracy. they would still have responsibilities to a higher government.
> Cannot foresee any system that can replace the initiative and responsibilty of capitalism.
the monarchs didn't see democracy coming, either.
> Who decides what is "enlightened"? That is a parental responsiblity and wopuld certainly hope the gov't stays out of that.
that's the reason behind the loose confederation of local governments. they should be small enough to decide among themselves.
of course, it's not like any of this is really going to happen soon...
|re: As Sam Kinesin Used to say...||jrm|
Jun 19, 2002 1:56 PM
|Dont send um food, send um f*ing U-hauls. Bring back colonalism...|| |