Sound off on Copenhagen!

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    Ben Yahr

    How do you feel about the Copenhagen Climate Summit?

    I found this article very thought provoking:

    Are we better off continuing as-is, researching more, phasing in token reductions in GHG, instituting cap and trade, hard regulations, carbon capture, moving to Mars, or waiting for industry to solve the problem?

    Disclaimer: I’m not sure what the right answer is, but let’s try to keep responses coherent and civil- emotions tend to flair a little bit whenever the long term future of civilization enters the conversation.


    Ben, it looks like you’re building a boat in your photo. Is this part of your plan for dealing with sea level rise? ; )

    That is indeed a thought provoking article, comparing it to other serious moral dillemmas of history. Comparing it to slavery reminded me of the movie “Amistad” about the trial of slaves on a ship bound for the US who staged a mutiny. I think it was the character based on John Adams who pointed out that taking the case through trial would serve to get debate going regarding slavery, creating the path to its eventual abolition. Abolition came along some 60+ years later. If there is at least discussion of allowing CO2 rise as a moral matter now, maybe in a generation we’ll really put a stop to it. Of course by then there is likely to be considerably more evidence of its effects and the climate change deniers will have been firmly placed, as Obama likes to say, on the wrong side of history.

    The world would like to believe it has stamped out Nazism and slavery, but remnants of it still exist. There are still neo-Nazis, there are sex slaves in the brothels of Dubai and virtual slaves working on the construction projects there. Even placing it on one side of a moral equation does not mean it will cease to exist. There will be people who will burn the last drop of oil available to them just like the natives of Easter Island cut down the last tree.

    Trace One

    well-put, boilerplater! They did try half measures with slavery for decades – slavery only allowed in the old territories, not the new territories, etc..
    I love James Hansen, and think we should just tax carbon – keep it simple..what the heck is wrong with a straight out simple tax on harming the environment..We need to pay more for housing, water, meat, vegetables – we don’t begin to pay in accordance with the impacets.. I heard on NPR about a city in Germany that wants to be the 2,000 unit city – 2,000 BTU’s per person per day, I think..Americans use 16,000 per person per day..Afrricans, 700..It is absurd..And the metaphorical symbolism of how fat americans are..really fat..
    As for whether the talks should fail, that is politics beyond my ability…dont’ want politics..Just action..

    David J. Chirico

    I appreciate the disclaimer. However, I would like to suggest an addendum to the disclaimer that if we are going to be civil in this discussion, we exclude such horrendous crimes as nazism and slavery. There is in no way a correlation between these crimes against humanity and global climate change other than their connection to government. And to use them as fodder to make a point is disingenuous.

    What I would like to ask is how global climate change carries with it a morality. Is this science or conscience?

    Mike G

    Interesting article. I would have to agree with Dr. Hanson, the meetings have to fail. Here’s my free market perspective:

    I think most people would agree that the price for energy does not reflect the true cost for our economic and climatic woes. To me, it only seams that the dollar stands as the best way to redirect future climate decisions. We saw a good example of this a bit a few years ago when oil prices skyrocketed. What happened: we consumed less & sales of fuel efficient cars soared. The automated economic solution was pushing toward energy conservation and efficiency. Largely this seamed like an agreeable direction that many designers envision for sustainable urban design and living, no? Enter the problem. Prices dropped as political pressure increased and additional subsidies were spent to ‘control’ costs. A.K.A. compromise and political interference. Where does this money come from? Taxes. The result: a return to previous prices, securities, and investments. This is not a free market model where supply and demand controls resources.

    Citizenry can only make so much effort to live more carbon neutral lives alone. Government needs to make a few hard decisions and free the system (slavery imagery here). Get us off the roller coaster ride… Stop subsidizing a system that is outdated, fragile to change, and doesn’t reward innovation or protect personal property & well being. The government doesn’t need more money (Taxes), they need less money to make this work, and in a time when ideas are plentiful and cash is short they need a new solution. The cost may be political capital, for a few politicians to sound the horns and lead the charge, and let free markets work like they were supposed to.

    When ever big changes are made and what ever direction the Government decides to go in will hurt for a little while. They’ll be some growing pains. Personally I don’t want to pay more for gas and electricity but I would if it meant having a better long-term plan for economic and ecological security. Or maybe Ben is on to something and we should just move to mars.

    Roland Beinert

    Would a world-wide summit of design professionals be more effective? Or industry CEO’s? I think it’s a problem with some very complex contributing factors, and needs to be tackled from all angles. Politicians are ineffective because they are the only group trying to do something about it en masse.

    Trace One

    Mr. Chirico, I would answer (I’ll stick my neck out!) that it is science!


    Humans are innately religious whether they be atheists, Hare Krishnas, or just good ol’ soccer moms – religion is whatever your life centers around and recently we’ve joined in a zealous Jonesing fest to see who can be the most dedicated to the faith of global warming (hereafter referred to as HICCUP – Human-Induced Climate Change is Unconscionable Prevarication). The only reason the Europeans are proselytizing this crap on us is because they envy us – always have – and HICCUP provides the means to slow down our progress so they can catch up. And the only reason the American Left has joined the Europeans is because they envy them – always have. How anyone can view the faith required to accept HICCUP and think it science is beyond reason.

    HICCUP exists for the sole purpose of raising taxes but taxes don’t provide more revenue to governments. Tax cuts do that and they do it very effectively. Tax reductions increase revenue to treasuries while taxes (tax increases) serve only to further corrupt the tax-and-spend culture complex while stifling economic growth. The only reason a bunch of amoral jolly green giant carbon footprint delegates have traveled to Copenhagen is to plot their next move in their ever-evolving scheme for fleecing the United States economic engine out of more money. The world has indulged in our protection, charity, culture, financing, and other provisions to intoxicating levels for so long that they are now determined to seize our wealth before the source of it (free enterprise and capitalism) seizes up. I’m sure only half of you remember the mantra of the 60s freako/whacko: “Capitalist Pig!” HICCUP is the perfect answer for these phoney philosophers. Ironically of course if they succeed, their cherished right to burn the flag along with all of the other personal liberties they take for granted while ungratefully inhabiting this last bastion of freedom will be lost for the remainder of our generation and probably well beyond that.

    Either learn the truth about capitalism and defend it against the assaults from this massive, mis-guided HICCUP or adios muchachos!

    Ben Yahr

    Now we’re rolling… I used to be in favor of cap and trade as a compromise to those who argue for not hurting our economical prosperity (whatever that means). But there is no room for compromise. No room for haggling, and no room for 17%.

    Dr. Hanson’s comparison of our current situation to that of slavery and nazism is certainly fair. Physics is not a government conspiracy. The survival of future generations depends on us acting responsibly now, and acting to reduce the effects of 150 years of irresponsibility. Unlike slavery where only a minority were guilty of the actual infraction, nearly every person in the developed world is using carbon that they are not paying the full price for. On the flip side, each has the opportunity to act responsibly.

    The problem is that the majority of us don’t choose to act responsibly because it is so simple to continue down the established road of major energy use. I challenge those of you who disagree with governmental measures to suggest another solution. The “religion” of capitalism certainly doesn’t seem to be offering positive solutions to reduce energy use.

    Mike G

    Hey Ben, Nice vessel by the way, looks like you’ve done some fine trim work on the gunwales. All Cedar?

    Cap and trade is another example of creative financing thats going to lead to no good. I would agree with William which he described it as another “scheme for fleecing the United States economic engine out of more money.” Not only that but it doesn’t have and nor will it ever have any positive value or affect on carbon emmissions reduction. The only realistic answer to reducing carbon emmissions is conservation and efficiency. Now on to Capitalism…

    Is our country really practicing a form of true capitalism like the minds would like us to believe? Our country, government and citizenry, is paying the cost for industry’s folly. Capitalism is risk and those that take the risk bare the consequence. However in our current operational ‘global’ form of capitalism (eek!) The industries that take the risks do not face or suffer the consequences, the willing government and happy, hardworking, and taxpaying citizenry is! Further, economic ‘externalities’ the hidden costs of our economic decisions are not seen as we continue to consume resources. Before we get to conservation everything needs to be laid out on the table.

    We need more Ecology and Economy methaphors and banter; where are the freedom loving capitalist at?

    Ben Yahr

    Well said on both counts Mike.

    Yup, if Mars (or the Moon) doesn’t pan out, I plan to float aimlessly on the high seas in my cedar canoe- which is actually eastern red cedar, western red cedar, ash, walnut, cherry, basswood, fiberglass, and a lot of epoxy- a petroleum product;)

    Trace One

    all this verbiage should not result in everyone feeling that all effort is useless and wrong….You can complain that the government is corrupt, cap and trade doesn’t work (although it has worked in Europe, already) but don’t let that give you the comfortable american framework that nothing really matters..

    It matters..A lot..Cap and trade may not be the best, but it is better than nothing..

    We can be more articulate than Sarah Palin here, please..


    It will be a while before I believe that a private jet trip to anywhere to discuss man’s impact on climate change makes any sense at all. Don’t start with the fleet of limos’ to get those clowns around town. Next time do a “Go to meeting” confence call and save the planet.

    It is time that we all pulled up our collective boot straps and and made individual contributions to saving our little part of the world and stop tring to inflict our values on every on else.

    Trace One

    and we also have to stop obsessing about Al Gore’s particular carbon footprint..These are not knock-out constraints..As the carbon footprint for the Copenhagen meeting does not mean abandon all hope, ye who enter here..this is a world, trying to solve a world problem..Focus!!

    Ben Yahr

    Good point Trace, I agree that some progress is better than no progress (by definition…)

    John Michael Greer addressed this topic just yesterday, with a different conclusion:…

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