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Deep thought - June 3

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Apathy threatens humanity, ex-Clinton aide says

Vanessa Gates,
Thomas Homer-Dixon says we still don’t get it.

And unless we change our energy-consuming, air-polluting ways, we’re in for a rude awakening in just 26 years.

“It’s not going to look good,” said the author of “The Ingenuity Gap,” and editor of the recent best-seller, “Carbon Shift” and former White House advisor to the Clinton administration.

... So how do we reduce our carbon footprint, while searching for a cleaner alternative to our depleting oil problem? This is what Homer-Dixon refers to as the “carbon shift”.

“Carbon Shift” is a compilation of essays written by various academics who discuss the issues of oil depletion, climate change and what the world may look like in the future.

... Each writer addresses a different issue. Environmental scientist David Keith writes that climate change is a major problem, while Former chief economist of CIBC World Banks, Jeff Rubin feels that the oil depletion issue is much more important. Though the essayists in the book may not agree on which challenge is paramount, they make their positions clear; both problems are something that need to be brought to light.

With the need for the public to take swift action, Homer-Dixon admits he’s alarmed by the amount of public apathy especially amongst the youth. “I don’t understand why young people aren’t out there in the thousands on the streets saying, ‘This is our future.’
(1 June 2009)

Ten reasons why population control can’t stop climate change

Simon Butler, Green Left
Without doubt, climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence of the scale of the threat is overwhelming, compelling and frightening. Climate tipping points — which, if crossed, will lead to runaway global warming — are being crossed now.

We live in a time of consequences. So it’s crucial that the climate justice movement — made up of those determined to take a stand to win a safe climate future — campaigns for the changes that can actually make a difference.

In Australia, a discussion has surfaced about whether population control measures should be a key plank in the climate action movement’s campaign arsenal. Here are 10 reasons why such a decision would hinder, rather than help, the necessary task of building a movement that can win.

1. Population does not cause climate change

Advocates of population control say that one of the most effective measures we can take to combat climate change is to sharply reduce the number of humans on the planet. This wrongly focuses on treating one symptom of an irrational, polluting system rather than dealing with the root causes.

People are not pollution. Blaming too many people for driving climate change is like blaming too many trees for causing bushfires.

The real cause of climate change is an economy locked into burning fossil fuels for energy and unsustainable agriculture. Unless we transform the economy and society along sustainable lines as rapidly as possible, we have no hope of securing an inhabitable planet, regardless of population levels.

Population-based arguments fail to acknowledge that population levels will impact on the environment very differently in a zero-emissions economy. Making the shift to renewable energy — not reduction in human population — is really the most urgent task we face.
(31 May 2009)
I'm not sure why population control has to be posed as an either/or question. -BA

‘Generation Green’ Environmentally Oblivious

Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune
A new study suggests the popular idea that young people are more environmentally conscious than the rest of us isn't exactly correct.

Young people, in the popular imagination, are more environmentally conscious than the rest of us. But a new analysis of 30 years worth of data suggests that if we're waiting for a child to lead us out of the wilderness of environmental degradation, we may be waiting a long time.

Except for a brief blip in the early 1990s, high school seniors expressed decreasing levels of concern about environmental issues between 1976 and 2005, and were less willing to engage in earth-friendly behaviors such as conserving energy. That’s the conclusion of a study of trends in adolescent attitudes just published in the journal Environment and Behavior.
(25 May 2009)
Miller-McCune, a magazine and website launched by philanthropist Sara Miller McCune in March 2008, publicizes “significant research and researchers, explaining what they offer in practical options for dealing with pressing social problems"”

Editorial Notes: "Apathy" and "environmental oblivion" among young and old, it sounds like. But we can't either blame or rely on young people to save us. We all need to wake up to what is going on and change our behaviour. Now. KS.

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