CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- If we don't deal with climate change decisively, "what we're talking about then is extended world war," the eminent economist said.
"Somehow we have to explain to people just how worrying that is," the British economic thinker said.
His audience Saturday, small and elite, had been stranded here by bad weather and were talking climate. They couldn't do much about the one, but the other was squarely in their hands. And so, Lord Nicholas Stern was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting off mass conflict.
But wait there's more:
But if negotiators falter, if emissions reductions are not made soon and deep, the severe climate shifts and sea-level rises projected by scientists would be "disastrous."
It would "transform where people can live," Stern said. "People would move on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions, probably billions of people would have to move if you talk about 4-, 5-, 6-degree increases" -- 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
And that would mean extended global conflict, "because there's no way the world can handle that kind of population move in the time period in which it would take place."
Melting ice, rising seas, dwindling lakes and war -- the stranded ministers had a lot to consider. But many worried, too, that the current global economic crisis will keep governments from transforming carbon-dependent economies just now.
Of course what would a global warming story be without a bit of hypocrisy:
Stern, author of a major British government report detailing the cost of climate change, was one of a select group of two dozen -- environment ministers, climate negotiators and experts from 16 nations -- scheduled to fly to Antarctica to learn firsthand how global warming might melt its ice into the sea, raising ocean levels worldwide. If the world's nations act responsibly, Stern said, they will achieve "zero-carbon" electricity production and zero-carbon road transport by 2050 -- by replacing coal power plants with wind, solar or other energy sources that emit no carbon dioxide, and fossil fuel-burning vehicles with cars running on electric or other "clean" energy.
It seems to me that Mr. Stern should be practicing what he preaches.
Posted by TrueSoldier at February 23, 2009
06:20 AM | Email This
cross posted: The TrueSoldier Rants