Friday, February 02, 2007

Human Behavior and Global Warming

As the planet warming forecasts escalate and the developed nations start paying attention, the depth of the problem is evident, but the necessary solutions are still unpalatable to the governments, industries, and those who support unfettered capitalism as the economic system of choice.

As Jean-Marcel Bouguereau, Editor in Chief of Nouvel Observateur, points out (in an opinion piece reposted at
Suddenly, people are sounding the alarm everywhere. Not without some hypocrisy. Even George Bush mentions, thanks to new technologies, a "post-Kyoto strategy" - while he's refused to sign that protocol. And in Davos, the heads of companies have just salved their collective conscience by increasing the numbers of debates and roundtables on climate change. But only 20 percent of them consider protection of the environment to be a priority. These company bosses know that the break with growth that the Rome Club advocated as far back as 1972 is a death sentence for a capitalism that can't allow itself a drastic reduction in production and material consumption. It's a whole different economy that must be put into effect, based on other values.

Three big obstacles to curbing global warming that typically play bit parts to the energy use issue need to be faced if we're going to make serious progress:

1. An economic system built around the notion of unlimited growth (the creed of the cancer cell)

2. Growing population pressures around the world and the resulting implications on resources and energy use

3. The increasing appetite for meat consumption across the world (this piece, Hard to Swallow, touches on the impacts)

Energy use is important, but it's not the whole story, and I'll explore some of the related issues in future entries.