First the cheery news - if you are interested, I'm going to be on KBOO Portland 90.7 talking to Andrew today about the problems of biofuels at 9am PST. If you want to read some of my prior writing about the subject, you can find it here: http://www.energybulletin.net/24169.html The interview will eventually be online here: www.kboo.fm
Now to the bad news (and you knew there had to be some, of course), Carbon Equity's sequel to The Big Melt is out, and its assessment of what needs to be done is shocking - unless you've been reading this blog and following the news regularly. I can't link you directly to it, since PDF files do nasty things to my computer, but again, I'll send you over to Rob Hopkins' site to check it out: http://transitionculture.org/2007/11/14/follow-up-to-the-big-melt-challenges-assumptions-on-co2-targets/.
Again, this is mostly a reiteration of what we knew already - that nothing in the present plans created by the IPCC or any national government is adequate to what we're facing - we're not only lost in the Arizona desert, but we're still looking that the town road map for Akron, Ohio - we're not even on the right page. Nor do we have a lot of time to get it right.
And we have to get it right - the stakes are simply too high - no matter what the personal price to us now, it is inevitably going to be less serious than the price we will pay if we don't stop climate change. In fact, one of the great absolute truths is that it is always easier, cheaper and better to prevent a mess than clean it up afterwards - that fact is not any less true in the face of the knowledge that fixing the problem will be extraordinarily difficult for us.
The next part of the report will include solutions, and I have no doubt that it will be as wise and useful as the rest of the report. My own take on this is that there simply is no other option than mostly, to stop buying stuff, stop using stuff, stop burning fuel and change our society, radically. And that means mostly changing our society by making do with what we've got - by taking all the things we've invested so much energy in over the last decades, and extracting what benefit we can from them, and then going forward from there. Perhaps we'll sequester some carbon, I'm sure we'll do some renewables - but mostly, we're going to be taking the bits and pieces and fragments of what we have and putting the puzzle pieces together again to make a different picture.
And I'll admit, a particular thought experiment has been troubling my mind lately. I wonder sometimes, what the results would be in this country if we pulled the bandaid off rather rapidly, and managed to cut fossil fuel inputs dramatically, and rapidly, rather like Cuba in the special period.
Now don't mistake me, I have absolutely no doubt that I would hate the results - that it would involve panic, riots, catastrophe, hunger, disaster. The average Cuban lost 20lbs during the special period - I could afford it, my husband barely, my kids absolutely not. And yet, I wonder if it might not be that someone with the courage to do this may be our only choice - because so far, what we are doing is not doing it. We're so afraid of the suffering we might experience even in an easy transition that I sometimes wonder whether if we could just be forced into letting go of our fear, to jump in and go forward, we might not, in the end succeed.
These are just musings, of course, and I'm also grateful for my options, for my comforts. I don't want the magic fairy dust of fossil fuels to go away - they are far too convenient. And if I have trouble disciplining myself, I'm sure it is no surprise that others do too.
Ah well, just thinking.