Climate Justice or War on Bad Weather?

Stop Climate Choas

These Scots seem to want Gordon Brown and the EU to make the weather predictable. Good luck with that.

Democracy Now! has compiled its reporting on global climate change and the recent summit held in Copenhagen under one header: Copenhagen Climate Summit.

Until I heard the December 14th show, it’s was tough for me to frame my opposition to these climate change treaties. I think I finally have it.

It isn’t that I deny climate change.   Personally, I do not have the expertise to either confirm or refute the scientific theories linking human activity to global climate change.   I’ve heard it said that 97% of active climatologists agree that human activity is causing global warming.  While that claim itself, like all other claims, ought to be subject to scrutiny, I’m not uncomfortable in accepting it, or at least the implication that the active scientific community has reached a consensus on the issue.

The problem is that there is still nothing to stop good science from inspiring bad policy. The scientific community may agree that gravity causes at least 97% of all injuries suffered as a result of falling.  Even if we could repeal the law of gravity, that wouldn’t inspire me to embark on a global campaign for “gravity justice” and advocate the first panacea that the UN concocts to deal with the global falling problem.  Similarly, before I can get behind any climate change treaty, I must first be convinced that it will not cause more harm than good.  My default position for quite some time has been that oppressive regulations generally do more harm than good.

Climate justice

¿Como?

What I don’t like about discussions surrounding the global climate treaty is that success is defined very poorly, often with vague catch phrases like “climate justice”. What is “climate justice“, exactly?  The problem is framed like this: “Hurricanes, droughts, and icecap melting are causing too much damage around the world, and the climate-changing activities of developed countries are mostly to blame. Therefore, we need a treaty to restrict these activities.” What I never hear the proponents of these treaties express very clearly is their proposals for acceptable amounts of weather related damage.  I’ve never heard them say anything like: “$20B in hurricane damage is too much, but $10B is acceptable.  $18B in drought damage is too much, but $12B is acceptable.”  The end result, I fear, will be an open-ended, quxiotic, and oppressive “War on Bad Weather.”  Every time some poor African country gets hit with a drought, it will be the fault of developed nations.  Every time some Oceanic island nation gets hit with a flood, it will be the fault of developed nations.  I’m afraid of what we will eventually be required to sacrifice in the name of the War on Bad Weather.

If anyone has any links to any sites that list the precise descriptions of the optimum climate that “climate justice” advocates hope to achieve, and some sort of evidence demonstrating that imposing the desired regulations will result in achieving the desired climate, please post in the comments.

You’ll find an example of a set of goals that I would dismiss out of hand for vagueness at the Mobilization for Climate Justice — London, Ontario:

The goals of the Mobilization for Climate Justice are:

1) To build a global movement for climate justice that encourages urgent action to avoid catastrophic climate change, and which addresses the root social, ecological, political and economic causes of the climate crisis toward a total systemic transformation of our society.

2) To promote and strengthen the rights and voices of Indigenous and other affected peoples, including workers in energy-intensive industries, in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

3) To expose the consequences of false and market-based climate “solutions” as well as corporate domination of climate negotiations, while advancing alternatives that can provide real and just solutions and which protect biodiversity.

Would anyone care to elaborate on what sort of “urgent action” the Mobilization for Climate Justice has in mind to alter the weather in its favor?  It doesn’t appear to be market-based, or freedom-based, for that matter.  I’ll tell you now, if it involves me running down Market Street naked with a red-hot stoker up my hind-end, then it is going to take a little more convincing on their part.

Mobilization’s truncated definition of climate justice is no more inspiring:

What is Climate Justice?

Climate justice is a vision to challenge and alleviate the unequal burdens created by climate change. As a form of environmental justice, climate justice is the fair treatment of all people and freedom from discrimination with the creation of policies and projects that address climate change and the systems that create climate change and perpetuate discrimination.

I need something a little more concrete to get behind than this vague and self-congratulatory “vision”.  When the enforcers of regulations that will come of this “vision” come to your neighborhood and dictate how you may eat, how you may work, how you may travel, how you may keep warm, and how you may live, they won’t be “visions”, apparitions, or phantasms.  They will be flesh-and-blood human beings with the coercive power of the State behind them.  Those who willy-nilly support all treaties and legislation that come down the pipe under the banner of climate justice had better be prepared to reap what they sow.

Here is a slightly better attempt from the above-pictured wave-like group, Stop Climate Chaos.  Their bright-line goal is to keep global warming down to 2°C:

Why is 2 degrees C so important?

Climate change science tells us that we must keep global warming below 2 degrees C. If not, we’ll dive headlong into climate chaos, which will be dangerous and irreversible. We have the power to prevent the worst, but we must act fast to curb the changes already in motion.

Droughts, floods and hurricanes are hitting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities hardest. With a rise of 2 degrees C or more, southern Europe will suffer serious drought every decade; billions of people will not have enough water; 550 million will go hungry; 3 million will die from malnutrition.

In the UK coastal flooding will impact up to 170 million people. And many plant, bird and butterfly species will be consigned to the history books.* Instead we can make climate chaos just a bad dream.

If we act fast we can limit global warming.

Right now we must put the brakes on rising temperatures and cut global emissions. By 2015 we must ensure these emissions are decreasing year on year. This is the only way that we will limit global warming and avoid catastrophic impacts on people and planet.

Opps! Did my refrigerator do that? My bad. Just say the word, and I'll scrap it.

Does Stop Climate Chaos guarantee that the above referenced calamities will not occur as described if climate change is contained to 2°C?  What if we find, after sacrificing our standard of living to keep climate change down to 2°C, that flooding, drought and hunger persist in the world?  In that case, is there a plan B? Will they continue to wage the War on Bad Weather?  Will they stay the course?

Do they have a specific piece of legislation in mind that would guarantee not only that flooding, drought, and hunger are reasonably contained, but also that climate change is contained within the all-important 2°C tolerance?  —or will any attempted legislation suffice, as long as it is passed with good intentions?  Does Stop Climate Justice have a similar bright-line rule for the living standards they are willing to forego to remain within the 2°C window? What if a tolerance of 2.0001°C greatly improved everyone’s standard of living, but allowed a marginal increase of death and destruction due to weather-related calamities?  Would that be acceptable to Stop Climate Chaos?  —or is it 2°C or bust?

These are the sort of questions I’d like to have answered favorably before I can support any attempt to control the climate through legislation and regulation.

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One Response to Climate Justice or War on Bad Weather?

  1. […] Glover uses earthquake destruction to plug climate change regulation. This is a perfect example of what I discussed in my earlier blog about climate change regulation. Where does it end? No legislation will ever make natural disasters a thing of the past. Between […]

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