Saturday, November 17, 2007

Terrors of the night
Chinese to show the way?

Glacier edge on Kilimanjaro in 2002; certainly long melted today.

When I was a child in the 50s, we sweated at night in fear of the Bomb. In the United Kingdom today

Half of children between the ages of seven and 11 are anxious about the effects of global warming and often lose sleep over it...

A survey of 1,150 youngsters found that one in four blamed politicians for the problems of climate change, while one in seven said their own parents were not doing enough to improve the environment.

The Scotsman

Now there is a cohort asking itself at a very young age, "Can it happen here?" They are not crazy; in fact they have a sensible, and aptly targeted, apprehension of risk:

From the high asthma rates in Massachusetts to malaria scaling Mount Kenya, sick children have become the first victims of rising temperatures and extreme weather.

Boston Globe

International polling reveals that the adults also get it. Interestingly Chinese citizens are among the most willing to pay for needed costs and lifestyle changes.

In all countries majorities agree that in order to address the problem of climate change it will be necessary for individuals in their country "to make changes in their life style and behavior in order to reduce the amount of climate changing gases they produce."

Urban Chinese have the largest majority--85 percent--who would support raising taxes on the fuels that contribute most to climate change. ...

... China stands out as exceptionally willing to consider higher taxes as a means of combating climate change. When those against or uncertain about higher taxes are asked whether they would support them to increase efficiency or develop new sources, the total in favor of tax increases becomes a nearly unanimous 97 percent.

Apparently there's something about living in a country on the economic rise that gives people at large a can-do attitude, something our current rulers in this country neither practice nor encourage.

Thoughtful people wonder whether the challenge of climate change actually presents even more threat to our historic social arrangements than is posed by climate crisis itself. The author and social observer Anatol Lieven has mused:

The question now facing us is whether global capitalism and Western democracy ... can make the limited economic adjustments necessary to keep global warming within bounds that will allow us to preserve our system in a recognizable form; or whether our system is so dependent on unlimited consumption that it is by its nature incapable of demanding even small sacrifices from its present elites and populations.

If the latter proves the case, and the world suffers radically destructive climate change, then we must recognize that everything that the West now stands for will be rejected by future generations. The entire democratic capitalist system will be seen to have failed utterly as a model for humanity and as a custodian of essential human interests.

International Herald Tribune

Now there's a vision worthy of nightmares.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Unfortunately, that particular nightmarish vision is exactly where we are right now. Capitalism based on increased consumption is exactly the wrong model for survival for humans, but I'm not seeing any vision of that changing in my lifetime except in small, incremental hippie communal garden solar panel ways.

That is, until disaster seriously strikes. Get ready, this is going to be an interesting ride.

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