quarta-feira, 7 de setembro de 2011

Alterações Climáticas, Consumismo, Ética - reflexões de Clive Hamilton

Artigos seleccionados- blogue Clive Hamilton

In the standard consequentialist view of climate ethics, the question of whether it is ethically justified intentionally to shift the planet to a warmer or cooler climate depends on an assessment of the costs and benefits of the new state compared to the old one. In this view the natural world is framed as a catalogue of resources for the benefit of humans, there is nothing inherently preferable about the natural state, and there is no moral constraint on humans choosing for the Earth any climate they might prefer. This paper argues that the grip of this kind of “technological thinking” explains why it has been so difficult for humanity to heed the warnings of climate science and why the idea of using technology to take control of the Earth’s atmosphere is immediately appealing. Yet the unique and highly threatening character of global warming renders the standard approach to the ethics of climate change and geoengineering untenable. Recent discoveries by Earth system science itself—the arrival of the Anthropocene, the prevalence of non-linearities, and the deep complexity of the earth’s processes—hint at its inborn flaws. The emerging understanding of the Earth highlights the dangers of technological thinking, evokes a strong sense of humility and suggests a source of moral authority beyond the self-legislating Kantian subject.

Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change

by Clive Hamilton , November 2010
Global warming science has become a battleground in a wider cultural war, particularly in the United States where rejecting climate science has been seamlessly adopted by right-wing populism—notably by the Tea Party, the movement of those who demand their fair share of injustice. In these circumstances scientific facts are trumped by beliefs, so that climate denial is due more to a surplus of culture than a deficit of information. History can illuminate the present in a way no contemporary analysis can, and this paper draws on three historical episodes to provide a more nuanced understanding of the nature of climate denial. First, the campaign in the 1920s against Einstein’s general theory of relativity provides an uncannily complete template for the conservative attack on climate science eight decades later. Secondly, in many speeches throughout the 1930s Winston Churchill aimed “to prick the bloated bladder of soggy hopes” for enduring peace. But his “alarmist” warnings of Nazi aggression were met with derision. The public was deaf to any messages but reassuring ones. The third episode is less history than historical allegory, that of how the French responded to German occupation. Albert Camus’ 1947 novel The Plague describes the strategies deployed by those trapped in a plague-ridden town to avoid facing up to the truth, and the courage of the few who do.The phenomenon of climate denial suggests that three centuries ago the forces of Enlightenment science had entered into a contingent alliance only with the commitment to a rational social order, and that the “subjectivity” that allowed us to extract Nature’s secrets also gave us the self-certainty to ignore the knowledge if it proved too discomforting.

The Return of Dr Strangelove

by Clive Hamilton , June 2010
In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr Strangelove was the unhinged US general who risked nuclear apocalypse by ordering a first strike against the Soviet Union. The character was modelled on Dr Edward Teller, “the father of the hydrogen bomb”. In the 1990s, Teller and his colleague at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lowell Wood (a weapons researcher nicknamed “Dr Evil”), were among the first to advocate responding to global warming by transforming the chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. Taking control of the climate by injecting sulphur particles into the upper atmosphere sounds like science fiction, but there is now a powerful alliance of scientists and venture capitalists backing the idea. It’s endorsed by climate deniers in conservative think tanks, but the public remains mostly in the dark. This paper explores the strange politics of geoengineering.

Two years ago the Australian Labor Party won a decisive election victory in part by riding a public mood demanding action on climate change after years of stonewalling. The new Government promised to spearhead world efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today it’s on the run, retreating from a surge of militant anti-climate activism that believes climate science is a left-wing plot aimed at promoting elites, wrecking the economy and screwing the little man. What happened?  This series of five articles appeared on the ABC The Drum website on 22-26 February 2010.

Recent analysis of carbon budgets shows that the timing and scale of emission reductions needed to avert dangerous climate change are well beyond any national policy proposals or anticipated international agreement.There have been two alarming developments in recent years. First, climate scientists are reporting that the scale of damages associated with warming of 2°C is much worse than previously believed, suggesting that more stringent emission cuts are essential. Secondly, global growth in greenhouse gas emissions is much higher than anticipated a few years ago and the world is now on a warming path that is worse than the worst-case scenario. Rather than decarbonising, the world is carbonising at an unprecedented rate.Analysis reviewed in this paper shows that, under the most optimistic assumptions about the timing and extent of global greenhouse gas emission reductions, cumulative emissions over the next few decades will result in atmospheric concentrations reaching 650 ppm of CO2-e, associated with warming of 4°C or more before the end of the century, a temperature not seen on Earth for 15 million years. It now seems almost certain that, if it has not occurred already, within the next several years enough warming will be locked into the system to set in train positive feedback processes that will overwhelm any attempts to cut back on carbon emissions. Humans will be powerless to stop the shift to a new climate on Earth, one much less sympathetic to life.

Humanity’s ability to adapt physically to a warming globe will depend in part on how well people adapt psychologically. So how will humans adjust to or cope with the threat associated with a world under a radically transformed climate? While varying among individuals and societies, many people will experience threats related to: the well-being and survival of descendants; the state of the planet, including its natural wonders and biological diversity; and the stability and progress of the societies in which they live. Extensive social scientific research into human reactions to threats provides some insights into the psychological strategies humans are likely to adopt to defend against or manage the unpleasant emotions associated with “waking up” to the dangers of a warming globe. The emotions include fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, anguish, sadness, depression and helplessness. Likely coping strategies include denial strategies, maladaptive coping strategies and adaptive coping strategies.

William Nordhaus is perhaps the most influential US economist in the global warming debate. While climate scientists are calling for urgent and strong action, he has been urging a cautious response, stressing the high costs of cutting emissions and the uncertainties associated with climate change. This paper argues that his latest proposal for a carbon tax, based squarely on neoclassical economic assumptions, contravenes agreed international principles, exposes the environment to risk, accords unwarranted privilege to private over public decisions and would result in more years of delay before the world responds.

Death rattles of climate change skeptics

by Clive Hamilton , May 2008
With the sharp turn in public opinion and the election of the Rudd Government, it was fair to expect the climate skeptics would become quiescent. But, no, new amateur climate scientists think they know better than the experts. The latest to regurgutate the same old lines is Don Aitkin. (published in New Matilda 19 May 2008)

A comment, published in Crikey, on the 2008 budget of the new Labor Government.

Will the budget remake Howard's Australia

by Clive Hamilton , May 2008
What does the budget, and the reaction to it, tell us about the long-term effects of 11 years of Howard's cultural revolution? (Published in Crikey.)

No free permits for coal-fired power plants

by Clive Hamilton , March 2008
"Exempting the coal-fired electricity generators from the emissions trading system would be like imposing a tax on cigarettes then exempting smokers from paying it. ..." (Published in Crikey.)

Observations on Late Consumer Capitalism

by Clive Hamilton , June 2007
"Today, most people in rich countries seek proxy identities in the form of commodity consumption, consumer capitalism’s answer to the search for meaning. The hope for a meaningful life has been diverted into the desire for higher incomes and more consumption. Why do we succumb? ... " (Published in Australian Quarterly.)

Why Consumer Capitalism Loves Waste

by Clive Hamilton , October 2005
Hamilton outlines the problems associated with living in an economy built on the continuous production of ever-growing piles of waste, generated by unnecessary consumption. Alarming figures about how much we actually waste strengthen the argument.

Review of Jeffrey Sachs' "The End of Poverty"

by Clive Hamilton , July 2005
This book could be subtitled, My Amazing Adventures as an International Economic Guru. Having saved Bolivia from the perils of hyperinflation (when he was just 30) and rescued Poland and Russia from the deadweight of communism, our superhero has now set himself the biggest challenge of all − delivering the world from the curse of poverty. ... (The Age)

The Social Psychology of Climate Change

by Clive Hamilton , September 2002
This paper to the national Academies Forum on ‘Climate and Culture in Australia’ addresses the social and psychological reponse to the threat of climate change and environmental damage. Given that we have some cognitive understanding of the situation, it is a wonder that we are not moved to action to try to combat it, but unstead stick our heads in the sand. We are in a state of denial which must be overcome.

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