Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scientific American: "Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe"

An article written by Gary Stix, editor and senior writer for Scientific American (3/17/2012; emphasis is mine):

Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm. The issue came replete with technical solutions that ranged from a hydrogen economy to space-based solar.

If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science. Since doing that issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the technical details are the easy part. It’s the social engineering that’s the killer. Moon shots and Manhattan Projects are child’s play compared to needed changes in the way we behave.

A policy article authored by several dozen scientists appeared online March 15 in Science to acknowledge this point: “Human societies must now change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the Earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change. This requires fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions toward more effective Earth system governance and planetary stewardship.”

The report summarized 10 years of research evaluating the capability of international institutions to deal with climate and other environmental issues, an assessment that found existing capabilities to effect change sorely lacking. The authors called for a “constitutional moment” at the upcoming 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June to reform world politics and government. Among the proposals: a call to replace the largely ineffective U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development with a council that reports to the U.N. General Assembly, at attempt to better handle emerging issues related to water, climate, energy and food security. The report advocates a similar revamping of other international environmental institutions.

Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

Behavioral economics and other forward-looking disciplines in the social sciences try to grapple with weighty questions. But they have never taken on a challenge of this scale, recruiting all seven billion of us to act in unison. The ability to sustain change globally across the entire human population over periods far beyond anything ever attempted would appear to push the relevant objectives well beyond the realm of the attainable. If we are ever to cope with climate change in any fundamental way, radical solutions on the social side are where we must focus, though. The relative efficiency of the next generation of solar cells is trivial by comparison.

Brave new world. Instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting centuries.


Anonymous said...

There can be competition between individual countries as to their endavours to limit climate change.Which countries if any besides Australia have any such laws?Yhe best ones need yo be rewarded.No world government.

Maju said...

Maybe but first of all a totally different socio-economical model must be implemented all around:

1. under Capitalism growth (= growth of consumption ultimately) is a must and we would need a system of growth zero or something like that.

2. under Capitalism private profit is the only goal because it is believed that it serves the common good ultimately. This belief is proving itself wrong quite clearly but the doctrine of individualism and greed remains strong.

3. Capitalism extracts wealth (production) from two sources: workers (human work) and nature (animal and plant work, including the energy reserves these left in the past as fossil fuel). This wealth extraction must be changed and made sustainable for nature as well as fair for workers.

Without that any political system, local or worldwide will just serve the interests of a handful of robber barons and will solve nothing.

STeVe the JeW said...

i stopped reading sciam back in the late-90's... can't imagine anyone with the slightest sense would bother with that commandeered rag.

Anonymous said...

We have a much more serious, predictable, grave, and immediate problem that has to be dealt with. That is instantaneous failure of all nuclear power plants around the world, including all of their spent fuel pools brought about by a "solar tsunami"
This is the first issue Scientific American needs to get serious about. I expect however that they are more interested in catering to the forces of corporate global domination. It is true however that it is important to have efforts at communication and cooperation among the many governments around the world and that is the superpowers that must take the first big steps at cleaning up their acts.

Anonymous said...

Give me liberty or give me death! No world government!

Saidani said...

The problem with a one world Utopia is that it is an "all-or-nothing" proposition. It would be impossible to get 7 billion people to agree on what such a world will look like. Therefore, it can only be achieved by force.

Those who advocate for a global Utopia, advocate first for the eradication (murder) of a large portion of the world's population. No sane person would contemplate such a thing. The human race is not worth saving if it comes to that.

Anonymous said...

Its not necessary to counter our tendency to discount the future. Climate change will be on us far earlier than thought I think. Rough ride i think, in the very next years. Ah btw, add to 1-in-1000 year floods and droughts every 5 years also a lot of nuclear plants blowing up for luck of cooling. (see Spiegel International article)

Anonymous said...

When did "global warming" morph into "climate change" anyway?

Anonymous said...

Nothing's going to change... unless there's money to be made.

Anonymous said...

We need to make the change with the tools we can conjure and the tools we have available to us. we also need to educate ourselves and each other. Long live a free and open internet and deal with the actual world that is before you.

Anonymous said...

immediate potential catastrophic problem !!!

Nancy said...

We have to stop the hijacking of govt. by energy corps (oil, gas, power etc). They all actively work to manipulate government direction, programs and funding to enrich themselves at the detriment to society. We see it in Japan, US, UK and probably other countries too. Until we get their graft and influence out of the conversation and the policy we are all literally doomed.

In the US we can't get public transit, urban planning improvements and efficiency to become the norm because people are bombarded with the idea that these things are "anti-freedom" and will make them miserable. People are pushed that a huge house, gas guzzling SUV and suburban sprawl are their god given rights and American dream. Society here is programmed by those with the money, they promote ideas that make them cash and don't really make people's lives better. But people are so convinced with these ideas as measures of status that it is really hard to break.
We need to make public transit sexy, bikes cooler than SUVs, solar panels on your roof a status symbol. We lost control of the conversation in the US and it is going to take a huge effort to take it back from the corporate run media that seems to feed most people their ideas.

Anonymous said...

If you think bad energy companies are manipulating otherwise good governments and if their bad influence is off the governments will protect us all, you are extremely naive.

Atomfritz said...

"If we are ever to cope with climate change in any fundamental way, radical solutions on the social side are where we must focus, though."

Mass genocide.

Anonymous said...

What global warming, the issue is something totaly different, but thats an issue I will Not talk about right now.
Confimations will ocure within days anyway.

The issue is fear, why the fear of something that is infact slow, we talk about hundreds of years anyway, not next week.
At worst, but I dont belive in the AGW at all, sorry. The CO2 scam is infact the worst swindel in decades, CO2 have absolutly nothing to do with global warming. The maindriver of weather on our planet is the Magnetic feilds and our Sun. The rest is utter drivel and whats even worse, depentent on witsh side your on, we are solely responcible for JUST 2-4 % of CO2 emition on our Earth, then how the fu.. can THAT alter anything, well it dont.
Thats why we have all the forgerys and cowerups in reportings, the Climategate I and II.
And still people beliver their drivel and lies about our planets clima.

I will tell you a seacret, the magnet Poles have shanged position and the shange is starting to afect our weather system. Its been doing it slowly for years but have accelerated reasently. And is closing in on Siberia.
I you dont follow, I wount boother to explain.
And even in the South Atlantic things happens. And that steady weakening of our mag.feild and the planet is more "vounerable" to influences from space.
Its all out there.
Even Nasa atmits it, but it drowns in a hugh mess of a hole series of weird issues, like Niburu and so on.

To the climate change drivel, I love to show people this timeline ranging from 1895 to 200-, absolutly hilarious and sould be used as a prof of the history of scearmongering, domsday senarios and so on.


"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."
George Bernard Shaw

Anonymous said...

Well we know who is buttering Scientific American's bread.

The whole world ought to begin worrying more about the Matrix we are actually living within, and less about anything else. A layer of global government would just about cement the Matrix already in place. It's not machines parasitizing humans, of course. It's multinational corporations and the people who control them, along with the WTO, World Bank, IMF, etc.. It's a matrix of corruption, and it has us fighting each other over issues, while it consolidates control and expands. It is probably, most likely, the antiChrist system prophesied of in the Bible. Just think what the global warming 'faith' says about people, that we are exhalers of a poison and danger to the planet.

Anonymous said...

Think, too, what this says about Scientific American. It says it is a magazine which has been co-opted. Nothing it says can be trusted. It has no credibility. It is a tool for manipulation, and probably just as importantly, for suppression.

Jim said...

Please tell me that you're not a climate science denialist. That would be ... disappointing.

After all, you're concerned about tiny quantities of radionuclides contaminating the people of Japan -- you must appreciate what a 500-gigaton excursion in the global carbon budget does to Earth's radiative balance with space.

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