“Collective reflection” and working together on climate issues in Massachusetts

This is an excerpt from an article which appeared at RealClimate. That, in turn, is a translation of the same article which appeared in Le Monde on 11th January 2019.

Recent discussions at climate-related blogs and among environmental activists make the portions of the excerpt which I have highlighted in bold especially pertinent.

What if the focus on the moods of climate scientists was a way to disengage emotionally from the choices of risk or solutions to global warming? Since the experts are worrying about it for us (it’s their daily life, isn’t it?), let’s continue our lives in peace. If feelings and expressing emotions – fear, anger, anguish, feelings of helplessness, guilt, depression – in the face of risks are legitimate, even necessary, to take action demands that we go beyond that. Catastrophism often leads to denial, a well-known psychic mechanism for protecting oneself from anxiety. Managing risk is part of our daily lives and supposes that we are not in such denial (active or passive) as it prevents clear and responsible action. Because we know that many hazards carry predictable risks, human societies have learned to anticipate and cope, for example, to limit the damage of storms or epidemics. The challenge of climate change is to build a strategy not in response to an acute and clearly identified risk, but in anticipation of a gradual, chronic increase in climate risks.

The climate scientists are alright (mostly), but that’s not the important question. The dispassionate management of climate risk will require that everyone – citizens, decision makers, teachers, intermediate bodies, companies, civil society, media, scientists – in their place and according to their means, take the time for a collective reflection, first of all through mutual listening. The news shows it every day: this process is hobbling along, too slowly for some, too fast for others. It will need to overcome emotional reactions, vested interests, and false information from the merchants of doubt. Those who are unable to review their strategy and have everything to lose from the exit from fossil-fuel based energies will use nit-picks, manipulation, short-termism, and promote binary and divisive visions, all of which undermine trust and pollute the debate. But despite that…

Every degree of warming matters, every year counts, every choice counts. The challenge is immense because of the nature and magnitude of the unprecedented risk. It requires doing everything to overcome indifference and fatalism.

And, in this regard, but obviously with no support from the authors of the above piece, one of the most constructive things the climate-concerned of Massachusetts can do right now, whatever your political background and stripe, is to throw your support behind Governor Baker’s proposal to tax real estate transfers as a funding source for climate mitigation and adaptation. While The Globe quoted ELM and other environmental groups of having cautious support for the Governor’s proposal, to stand on the sidelines and fail to give him support for the proposal against the likes of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, quoted in the article, and probably Speaker Robert DeLeo means they are more interested in their side winning than on making progress towards the common goal of mitigating climate change, adapting, and preventing. I have criticized Governor Baker, too. But this and his Executive Order 569 are really welcome, and I walk back what I said there: The Governor has either learned, or I was wrong in the first place.

I’m not the only one supporting him: Foley-Hoag thinks this is a good idea, but wants the Governor to do more.

The risks are here. The risks are now. There is already a 1-chance-in-100 per year of an 8 inch rain or more in 24 hours. No Massachusetts stormwater infrastructure is capable of dealing with half of that. You think that risk small? There’s an 10% chance of that happening one or more times in 10 years. There’s a 4+% chance of that happening in 5 years. The chance of a 7 inch rain or more in 24 hours is 2% each year. Yet Massachusetts codes allow 1960s standards for diurnal rain projections to be the standard. These are no longer the 1960s.

So, which is it, all the people that say they want to fix climate change? Support or not? And if you don’t support this, where is your specific counterproposal? And if you don’t have one, you don’t deserve the label “climate activist” or “environmental activist”. Just settle for politician.

Update, 2019-01-23

A measure and program I find highly constructive is the Ceres Commit to Climate program for corporations.



About ecoquant

See https://wordpress.com/view/667-per-cm.net/ Retired data scientist and statistician. Now working projects in quantitative ecology and, specifically, phenology of Bryophyta and technical methods for their study.
This entry was posted in Anthropocene, being carbon dioxide, citizenship, climate change, climate disruption, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, EBC-NE, Ecology Action, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, environment, global warming, Governor Charlie Baker, greenhouse gases, Hyper Anthropocene, ILSR, investment in wind and solar energy, lobbying, local generation, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, New England, rights of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a reply. Commenting standards are described in the About section linked from banner.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.