I found the talk dissapointingly shallow, as though he intended only to promote 350.org, and not to engage in the discussion about climate change as it goes on around the world today. One indication of that is his insistance to use the term Global Warming instead of Change, I could be nit picking I guess.. but far more surprising was that in his 1 hour and 10 minute talk he didn't once refer to any of the compelling counter arguments to the climate change thesis, not even an attempt to counter them. The closest I heard him come was a rather repugnent throw away line that went something like, "those of us who get it, over those who don't" My words there, but it was something along those lines.
By the end of the talk I was way low on time but was sticking around for a possible question time. It looked as though there was not going to be a question time, but when it did eventuate, I jumped in:
Sam seems to have missed the thrust of my question, so here it is as I intended to come across:
Assuming the 350 campaign works, and it does pressure international governments to meet the carbon caps, have any of the campaigners given any consideration to what the ethical limits might be for those govs while they attempt to meet the 350 parts per million goal?
When Bill asked me to explain more, I gave examples of what some might consider to be stepping over the line to meet that goal:
- World government
- Laws and actions that unfairly impact on people's lives and freedoms.. (expanding here, would it be right to enact sanctions, invade, or force nation states to meet caps? Because he and others certainly make it sound that serious)
- Cultural bias and insensitivity - considering Bills words of "those with us", without defining who "us" actually are. Does he mean the less than 20% of the world who have access to a phone line? Does he seriously imagine us, as in U.S. leading the moral charge here?
- And what about the various controversies, some of which see scientists other than climatologists challenging the models and forecasting used to establish the theories that the 350 campaign goal is based on? Is it ethical that the campaign ignore the widening range of contributions to this issue?
I felt that Bill did not stop to consider my question, especially as it seems he had not heard such a question before. Instead he seemed to pull out a number of ready made general responses. Sam did seem to capture Bill's answer well:
Time is short. We don’t get to chose the world - sure it might be easier if the whole world adhered to a nature based religion, but they don’t. The only lever large enough to move systems in the time we have is the market. We need to inject one piece of information into the market - that carbon carries a very high price. A 350 limit will be quickly followed by a cap on carbon, this will see an “unleashing of innovation” (reflecting Krupp’s optimism). He acknowledges that this the
Our biggest challenge that humans have faced but it is our ethical obligation to the poorest and most vulnerable people and to the endless number of future generations not to leave them a planet pauperised beyond anything we can imagine
The list of actions that would have ethical challenges in them could go on, and I think Bills answer either show's he didn't understand my question, or that he had not thought of this dimension to his campaign yet. So I left feeling more than a little alarmed at the shallowness of the 350.org campaign message and its failure thus far to consider the implications of its own actions, or to at least prepare statements for the potential delimas we are about to face.
I didn't have time to ask my last question, nor stay around for the other interesting questions that Sam captured. But seeing as I'm here now, my comment would have been in relation to Bill describing the disproportionate political and economic power that fossil fuel companies have over the world, and how the 350.org campaign needs to somehow be equally powerful in its pressure message in order to rock that political (market) power. My thought at the time was that to effectively do that would probably require something more like "absolute power", and we all know what they say about absolute power... what I mean to say is that the way in which the campaign is being expressed, and the lack of thought gone into the possible results (apart from how to pull off a large media stunt), causes me a lot of concern.
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