COP21: Doubling Down on Denial

What have we done to date?

  • We set a goal to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees, despite it being clear that the current 1 degree rise is already unsafe.
  • We did absolutely nothing to achieve the goal; we didn’t even try.
  • We emitted enough CO2 to guarantee at least 2 degrees, even if we stopped all emissions today.
  • No one knows for sure, but we may have already triggered self-reinforcing feedback loops that will increase the temperature by a civilization killing 4-6 degrees; the point being that time is of the essence.

What should we have done at COP21?

  • We should have acknowledged the severity of our predicament.
  • We should have discussed the relationship between wealth and climate change; namely that wealth is proportional to energy consumption, CO2 emissions are proportional to energy consumption, and temperature is proportional to accumulated CO2; therefore to mitigate climate change we must reduce our total wealth.
  • We should have discussed the differences between fossil energy and renewable energy, and why the latter do not have the density, quality, or scale to run our advanced civilization.
  • We should have discussed the depletion of fossil energy and why aggressive conservation now would be a really good idea for both climate change and world peace.
  • We should have acknowledged that there are no easy solutions but lifestyle changes to focus on needs rather than wants, and population reduction policies would help.
  • We should have acknowledged that rich people and countries will have to reduce consumption much more than the poor if we want to maintain peace.
  • We should have acknowledged the good news that most people in developed countries have much more than they need to have a comfortable life.
  • We should have explained all of this to the citizens of the world and asked for their cooperation.

What did we actually do at COP21?

  • We changed the already impossible goal of 2 degrees to a more impossible goal of 1.5 degrees, thus grossly misleading the citizens of the world that our leaders are doing something useful.
  • We took no actions that will reduce CO2 emissions.
  • We made the situation worse by emitting tons of CO2 to fly 40,000 people to Paris to achieve nothing, and set a bad example in the process.
  • In summary, we doubled down on denial, instead of having an adult conversation.

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