Perhaps the only way to make lemonaide from the bumper crop of lemons that is heading our way is to understand that this economy, this system that must forever grow using limited resources must reform itself into a system that actually deals with reality.
And that reality is this: We have many limited resources. We have limited reserves of oil, of coal, and of uranium. We also have a limited amount of air to put our combustion products into. We have limited capital and perhaps more importantly, limited time.
James Hanson believes we only have a decade or so start making the right decisions.
So the one good thing about the coming economic debacle is that it will give us an opportunity to start making the right decisions. And this idea is beginning to take root all over the western world. Here's Nicholas Stern, a former senior British Finance economist, who authored the Stern Review.
Risks of global warming greater than financial crisis: Stern
By James Pomfr
Mon Oct 27, 2008
The risks of inaction over climate change far outweigh the turmoil of the global financial crisis, a leading climate change expert said on Monday, while calling for new fiscal spending tailored to low carbon growth.
"The risk consequences of ignoring climate change will be very much bigger than the consequences of ignoring risks in the financial system," said Nicholas Stern, a former British Treasury economist, who released a seminal report in 2006 that said inaction on emissions blamed for global warming could cause economic pain equal to the Great Depression.
"That's a very important lesson, tackle risk early," Stern told a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong.
As countries around the world move from deploying monetary and financial stabilization measures, to boosting fiscal spending to mend real economies, Stern said the opportunity was there to bring about a new, greener, carbon-reducing world order.
"The lesson that we can draw out from this recession, is that you can boost demand in the best way possible by focusing on low carbon growth in future," Stern said, including greater public spending on mass public transport, energy and green technologies.
Stern's warning comes on the heels of last week's Asia-Europe or ASEM meeting in Beijing, where China indicated in talks it was committed to seeking a climate change pact in vital end-game talks in Copenhagen at the end of next year. (clip)
"The U.S. and China will be the key leaders for a global deal. Either one of them could kill it, and I don't think either one of them will kill it." (clip)
Yet Stern remained optimistic, saying while talks would be "very tense" the likelihood of a deal in Copenhagen to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050 remained "very high." more
We can use the coming economic upheaval to accelerate the solutions we must follow, or we can allow this crisis to be used by the likes of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who recently warned that 10 other EU nations backed his efforts to block an EU climate agreement.
We can use this crisis to build high speed rail between our cities, to build better public transit, to remake our cities for ourselves instead of our cars, and to develop affordable third generation solar materials that will someday cover every manmade surface that sees light, providing us an unlimited bounty of energy.
We can use these coming years to rebuild our communities, to bring back local food, to restructure the way we work and the way we live.
We can use this time to reexamine the worst aspects of our consumer society, and replace it with a new understanding of the balance we must find in achieving a sustainable world that cannot possibly support six billion American lifestyles.
Or we can follow the Berlusconi's of the world and their plutocratic prattle into a hole that will swallow us all.
For these are indeed Stern times.
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Labels: climate change