18 Oct 2010: Opinion

A Positive Path for Meeting
The Global Climate Challenge

Climate policies that require public sacrifice and limiting economic growth are doomed to failure. To succeed, policies to reduce emissions must promise real benefits and must help make clean energy cheaper.

by roger a. pielke jr.

This past year, the Indian government took two actions that help to illustrate which steps to decarbonize the global economy might work and which are unlikely to succeed.

In advance of the G20 Summit in Toronto last June, India proposed lifting a small fraction of its subsidies on kerosene, diesel, and petroleum, with the inevitable result being an increase in fuel prices for Indian consumers. What was the result of that price hike, which had the equivalent impact of a $30-per-ton carbon tax? Widespread riots and strikes. By the end of August, India’s government had decided to delay implementation of the reforms, due to political opposition.

The other decision by the Indian government was to impose a small tax on coal, with the proceeds to be invested in renewable energy technologies. That small levy — expected to raise $535 million in its first year, despite imposing a tax equivalent to only 35 cents per ton of carbon — met with no public protests. Yet it could have a substantial impact on helping India develop its own green energy technologies.

The difference in public response to these government actions illustrates the immutability of what I call the iron law of climate policy: When policies on emissions reductions collide with policies focused on economic growth, economic growth will win out every time. Climate policies should flow with the current of public opinion rather than against it, and efforts to sell the public on policies that will create short-term economic discomfort cannot
People are willing to bear costs to reduce emissions, but they are only willing to go so far.
succeed if that discomfort is perceived to be too great. Calls for asceticism and sacrifice are a nonstarter.

The “iron law” thus presents a boundary condition on policy design that is every bit as limiting as is the second law of thermodynamics, and it holds everywhere around the world, in rich and poor countries alike. It says that even if people are willing to bear some costs to reduce emissions (and experience shows that they are), they are willing to go only so far.

That reality was certainly behind the failure of climate legislation in the U.S. Senate this summer. Putting a cap on carbon emissions sounds great. The problem is that it cannot work. All of the effort and politicking was fruitless, because the idea of placing a hard cap on emissions was a fantasy. A cap did not fly in the Senate because politicians were not going to do anything that might adversely impact their constituents or slow economic growth — especially during the U.S.’s worst economic recession in decades.

Given the death of climate legislation in the U.S. Senate, the failure of the Copenhagen climate conference last December, and the feeble efforts to reconvene a climate conference later this year in Cancun, Mexico, it is remarkable that anyone continues to advocate climate policies that to succeed depend upon a reduction in economic growth. The course that the world has been on for climate policy has created the conditions for policy failure. For some, the lesson is to reload and try again with the same strategies that have gotten us to where we are today. To me, that seems like insanity.

Pretty much everyone — even cap-and-trade advocates — agrees that innovation in energy technology must be at the center of any effort to accelerate decarbonization of the global economy. However, if we do not
The course that the world has been on for climate policy has created the conditions for failure.
have all the technologies we need to quickly accelerate rates of decarbonization, then the only other driver of emissions reduction is a reduction in GDP. Yet if reducing GDP is not politically possible, then what necessarily must give way is the commitment to reducing emissions. That logic says emissions will continue to rise even in the presence of a cap-and-trade program if technologies are not ready at scale to rapidly accelerate decarbonization. To think that politicians are going to willingly impose discomfort or pain on their constituents is fanciful at best.

To succeed, any policies focused on decarbonizing economies will necessarily have to offer short-term benefits that are in some manner proportional to the short-term costs. In practice, this means that efforts to make dirty energy appreciably more expensive will face limited success.

In recent months, examples have abounded of the iron law of climate policy. In August, Yu Quingtai, China’s top climate negotiator through the Copenhagen climate conference, gave a speech at Peking University’s School of International Studies in which he delivered some uncharacteristically blunt remarks about the realities of emissions reductions. He explained, “I cannot accept someone from a developed nation having more right than me to consume energy. We are all created equal — this is no empty slogan. The Americans have no right to tell the Chinese that they can only consume 20 percent as much energy. We do not want to pollute as they did, but we have the right to pursue a better life.”

He went on to say, “There are 600 million people in India without electricity — the country has to develop and meet that need. And if that
Emissions reduction goals will not be achieved by policies that constrict economic activity.
increases emissions, I say, ‘So what?’ The people have a right to a better life.”

The unavoidable reality is that policy makers and those they represent are committed to sustaining economic growth, bringing populations out of poverty, and expanding access to energy. Emissions reduction goals will not be achieved by policies that seek to stimulate innovation by constricting, much less by reducing, economic activity.

Those advocating otherwise are simply out of touch with reality. For instance, commenting on China’s need to reduce emissions, Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s leading climate diplomat and host of the Copenhagen climate conference, asserted that, “China and other emerging nations must accept it even if it isn’t fair.” The director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in the United Kingdom went so far as to argue that a “planned recession” would be necessary in the United Kingdom in order to reduce emissions in response to the threat of climate change.

But savvy politicians get the iron law of climate policy. Al Gore, for instance, advocated for U.S. climate legislation on the basis that it would cost the American household about “a postage stamp a day.” In an early 2009 debate over proposed cap-and-trade legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that “there should be no cost to the consumer.”

So if making the costs of energy appreciably more expensive is a nonstarter as a tool of decarbonization, what is the alternative? The alternative is to make clean energy cheaper.

Recently, Germany, like India, has adopted such a strategy. Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed extending the life of Germany’s nuclear power plants, which would lead to a financial windfall of close to $40 billion due to taxes on nuclear power and less need for new infrastructure. According
The purpose of a low-carbon tax should be to raise revenues to invest in innovation.
to Germany’s economics minister, Rainer Brüderle, the windfall will be used to develop renewable sources of energy.

Could such an approach form the basis of international climate negotiations? Imagine if countries came together at Cancun later this fall with a goal of negotiating a single number — what carbon price can they agree to implement? With agreement on a carbon price, at whatever level, the next step would be to reach a consensus on how the resulting proceeds would be invested in energy innovation, with the goals of driving down the costs of energy and expanding access.

Consider that a $5-per-ton carbon tax or a $3-per-barrel oil tax would each raise about $100 billion per year worldwide, funds that could be invested in energy innovation. Some of the money raised could be spent in countries such as India on energy infrastructure deployment, with the result being expanded access to energy and potentially driving down costs through scale. Other funds could be invested in research, development, and demonstration in a broad portfolio of renewable energy technologies.

Critical to driving this innovation will be government. Government must foster competition, pursue energy innovation using a public works model, and recognize the crucial role of demonstration projects. Governments should also become a major consumer of innovative energy-technology products and systems.


Freeing Energy Policy From
The Climate Change Debate

Freeing Energy Policy From the Climate Change Debate
Environmentalists have long sought to use the threat of catastrophic global warming to persuade the public to embrace a low-carbon economy. But recent events, write Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, have shown the risks of trying to link energy policy to climate science.
It is important to emphasize that the point of a modest carbon tax is not to change people’s behavior, to restrict economic activity, or to price fossil fuels at a level higher than alternatives. The purpose of a low-carbon tax is to raise revenues for investments in innovation. To the extent that innovation is successful, leading to the displacement of fossil fuels, it will be more likely that the carbon price can be increased.

Critics of such an approach might complain that it offers no guarantees for emissions reductions by specific dates in the future. Of course, neither does the present approach to negotiations, but they do offer up the illusion of such certainty for those willing to suspend disbelief. Experience under the UN Climate Convention, its Kyoto Protocol, and various national programs should convince anyone that the only certainty that can be counted on in the conventional approach to emissions reductions is that emissions will continue to rise.

The uncomfortable reality is that no one knows how the world might reduce its emissions by 80 percent or more in coming decades. But we do know enough to get started in that direction. Taking those first steps, however, will depend on our ability to create practical policies that are consistent with a narrative of promise and possibility focused on advancing human dignity.

POSTED ON 18 Oct 2010 IN Climate Energy Energy Policy & Politics Pollution & Health Water North America 


My comment is on the lack of historical context here and inconsistencies in the condemnation of the cap and trade market based policy.

The author notes: "But savvy politicians get the iron law of climate policy. Al Gore, for instance, advocated for U.S. climate legislation on the basis that it would cost the American household about “a postage stamp a day.” In an early 2009 debate over proposed cap-and-trade legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that “there should be no cost to the consumer.” "

These points are noted in the middle of a rejection of cap and trade policies and the author asserts such policies will cost money. The only politicians cited are ones who support the measure and claim it will be inexpensive. I found no support for the repeated assertions of the 'high cost = polictical savvy to reject' conclusion.

My first issue is the inane focus on what happened in the U.S. sentate where more than 50 senators supported the bill. Also the House of Representatives had already approved the bill by a good margin. Obama also tacitly supported the bill. The reason for its failure is more closely linked to climate change denialists in the senate who use antidemocratic procedural measures to block the bill on grounds of...I have no idea what these people are thinking, but they do it for the campaign money from oil companies.

I find it disengenous to cite 'savvy politicians' who have some reasonable opposition to cap and trade.

My second point deals with the historical use of cap and trade policies. Most notably the use of cap and trade in the elimination of leaded gasoline usage in the US. I find the arguments presented here as a bit obstrucitonist to green goals with the constant pushing of the idea that there will be 'uncomfortable short term sacrifices' and this is the reason and justification for a global trend of political inaction and finger pointing between the unreasonable global north and the willing to pollute global south.

If cost is an issue, then the method is nearly irrelevant. Cap and trade can be made as cheap as a carbon tax, the magnitude of immediate effect is unrelated to the method in my mind and so too is the usage of any funds collected.

Posted by spiritkas on 18 Oct 2010

I agree with your analysis. Using less total energy won't work, but using clean energy might. Energy efficiency using means to doing more with less, not the same with less. A practical proposal has been suggested by James Hansen. He calls it "tax and dividend", the idea that a sustained and increasing tax on carbon at the source is 100% returned to the citizens as a dividend, but still sends an economic signal that drives innovation.

This is his testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee on February 25, 2009:


Posted by Tony on 18 Oct 2010

Sadly, this is wishful thinking.

For example: It would take subsidies of at least $60 billion/yr for wind power to beat coal-generated electricity and that's just 40% of US CO2.

There's no avoiding it: We will need to raise the relative price of dirty fossil fuel energy so that low carbon alternatives can compete. A gradually rising carbon fee with revenue returned to households via direct distribution ("dividend") or by cutting other taxes is the surest, fairest way.

More at www.carbontax.org.

Posted by James Handley on 18 Oct 2010

Unfortunately, dealing with climate change requires more than lowering the relative price of clean energy sources.

If we only reduced the price of clean energy, then the optimal consumption path of non-renewable energy resources would shift to a lower price. In other words, those companies in control of our oil, natural gas, and coal reserves would have a strong incentive to price these resources lower so that more of the resource would be used in the short term. In fact, lowering the price of clean energy, without a carbon tax or other fee on dirty energy, could have the perverse effect of increasing our GHG emissions in the short run. This could be a boon to our economy, but in terms of mitigating climate change, at best it won't help (in the short run) and at worst it could hurt us.

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The idea that we can effectively deal with climate change without a carbon tax is no different - too good to be true.

Posted by Economics 101 on 18 Oct 2010

Economics 101-

Yes, the "green paradox" is one reason that efforts to reduce the price of alternatives alone is not enough. But at the same time, the ability to either raise a carbon tax to higher levels or event o decide to leave fossil fuels in the ground will be a function of the availability of low priced alternatives. All roads to accelerated decarbonization go through energy innovation, which is why we should start there.
Posted by Roger Pielke, Jr. on 18 Oct 2010

A very rational approach, but as you can see above, it will be opposed by the true believers. The catastrophic part of AGW has most likely (in my opinion) been greatly overstated by the true believers. Natural variability in climate will become a lot more popular if the next thirty years see continuations of the warming and cooling cycles observed in the previous century.

Warmists would apparently rather have no action at all than agree to something other than a worldwide shutdown of the coal, oil, and natural gas based components of the worldwide economy.

"No action at all" is an exaggeration, Europe will continue with meaningless exercises in harming their economies by spending precious resources on windmills and raising the cost of keeping warm and buying food. Meaningless because the growth in the third world will be multiples of the 'savings' in CO2 from crippling their economies. But the warmists of the world will feel good about the carbon taxes in the EU, and the people who have trouble scraping up the money to keep warm and buy food are sacrificing for the good of humanity as defined by the CAGW crowd.

Posted by cagw_skeptic99 on 18 Oct 2010

Prof. Pielke,

Your suggestion here makes sense:

"Imagine if countries came together at Cancun later this fall with a goal of negotiating a single number — what carbon price can they agree to implement?"

Yes, a great start, agreeing on a price would avoid the cap/trade/offset "food fight" of allocating emission rights. Even better: an agreement to keep gradually increasing the price.

But then, you write,

"...the next step would be to reach a consensus on how the resulting proceeds would be invested in energy innovation, with the goals of driving down the costs of energy and expanding access."

Now you're back into an endless allocation struggle. Skip that. Instead, let each nation decide how to use its carbon tax revenue. For developed countries, returning revenue can garner the political support that you note is so crucial. Cutting taxes on work is one of the best ways to stimulate employment. How's that for a win-win?

Posted by James Handley on 19 Oct 2010

The "current of popular opinion" desires infinite exponential economic growth on a finite planet. Herman Daly and many others have shown why that is not possible. The so called "iron law" states we can take no actions beneficial to society in the long term if it is not also beneficial economically to the average person and the super-person (corporation) in the short term. We are clearly being challenged to improve upon our two dimensional economic system and do a better job of taking into account the deeper needs of the planet and it's people. This is the fundamental gordian's knot our civilization is struggling to untie and which the sword of climate change will surely cut if we are unable.

Posted by Adam Albright on 19 Oct 2010

Any/all government policies should first be aimed at solving real problems - and only those problems that cannot be solved faster, more thoroughly, more cheaply, and with fewer negative unintended consequences by allowing free-market forces to work.

And atmospheric CO2 is not a real problem. (It is an issue masquerading as a problem that was manufactured by government and fed by government grants and subsidies.)

Posted by techgm on 19 Oct 2010

Thank you for a thoughtful piece, much of which I agree with. However, a casual reader may conclude that you think there can be a negotiation between human inventions, such as markets, and the laws of physics. In such a negotiation, physics will prevail every time. When discussing numbers to which we'll agree, we have to include the physical numbers, not just the market prices. But where you point out that people are much more willing to pay to invest in desirable outcomes, rather than to avoid future disasters, it's hard to disagree.

Posted by David Foley on 19 Oct 2010

Why is conservation so rarely addressed in articles and comments as above? Why are remedies to AGW such as telecommuting, less auto dependent development, living off the grid, growing your own food, planting billions of trees not given much if any attention?

Posted by TRB on 19 Oct 2010

Very good article, though I do agree with techgm-co2 was never a real problem, but an imagined one. Good to see Angela Merkel wanting to extend the life of their nuclear power stations, though, in order to stay in power, she had previously agreed with the ultimatum from the greens that they be closed. Perhaps the Germans are tiring of the greens. In Australia we seem to learn so little from watching the rest of the world, when we should be able to sit back, watch and listen, and learn by others mistakes.

Posted by ian hilliar on 20 Oct 2010

Adam Albright,

Our planet is not a closed system.

Posted by Alex Heyworth on 20 Oct 2010

The essence of the article is condemned from its start. It all relies on a sociological analogy that is essentially wrong. Riot in urban india is the fact of people barely surviving and that needs oil to even pay for food. Obviously this is not the case in the USA, very very far from it.

There is a clear sociological test that proves it once for all: the finance crisis. A sgnificant proportion of the American population have gone through a radical sudden impoverishement or even lost their houses, without the occurence of a single organise uprising. This went much farther than what would cause an heavy tax on fossil fuel, matching european countries. Besides such taxe can even be modulated by the actual income and total use to discourage heavy consumers and spare those who have no other choice (like going to work).

The only hindrance in the US is everybody knows it, of reverse nature: conservative and industrial lobby are and will prevent the occurence of such a thing because american people are politically extremely passive.

Posted by kervennic on 21 Oct 2010

"Climate policies that require public sacrifice and limiting economic growth are doomed to failure."

Really? If that is true, then how is the planet is supposed to survive a continuing trajectory of growth. Are you saying that technological positivism will provide us with ways of circumventing the laws of thermodynamics? Ultimately, isn't the question about more than carbon? Isn't it about a sustainable planet? A sustainable and biologically diverse planet?

If your premise is true, then we should prepare to live in a world that looks a lot like those imagined in movies like 'Soylent Green' and 'Blade Runner.'

Posted by Tom Barounis on 21 Oct 2010

Those unconcerned about global economic impact could continue to exhort the world's middle class to pay a lot more for carbon fuels...but, that's a likely a dead end course.

A wiser approach would be to conduct research that could lead to reduced cost for alternative fuels, which presently exceed the cost of coal and nuke by 5X to 10X. That may take 20 years. So what?

Despite the hysterical outcries of climate alarmists forecasting imminent armageddon, we have 20 to 50 years to research least cost approaches.

Part of this investment would be usefully spent to refine the field of "climate science" from highly politicized declarations of impending doom for all mankind to rational, openly discussed, projections of pragmatic hypotheses, tested and improved over time with scientific discipline.

The recent politicization and hysteria promulgated by climatologists is a major obstacle to practical developments that must be accepted by the world's population to achieve practical results.

Posted by Robert DePree on 21 Oct 2010

Response from the Director of the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research referred to in Professor Pielke's piece.

I can only hope that Professor's Pielke's misrepresentation of Alice Bows and my work is through carelessness rather than deliberate manipulation. We expressly undertake our analysis in relation to the 2C threshold that many nations have, of their own volition, signed up to. We then proceed to describe how the basic numbers with relation to emissions and the full range of cumulative values for 450ppmv stabilization from AR4 (linked to probabilities for 2C) lead to our conclusion that economic recession for the Annex 1 nations is a prerequisite (at least in the short-to-medium term) of any reasonable probability of the 2C target. On whether or not the 2C target is appropriate we do not comment; this is a judgement nations and individuals can make for themselves – but if 2C is accepted no amount of eloquence and rhetoric can overcome the basic numbers. To be blunt, if we were collectively serious about 2C we should have begun mitigation back around the Rio Earth Summit in 92 – and then Professor Pielke’s pronouncements may have worked (though with China and India estimating the earlist their emissions will peak as 2030 and 2032 respectively, even then his proposals may not have achieved 2C ). Instead, we sat back, donned rose tinted spectacles and simply ignored the roar of accelerating emissions

Its now 2010 and as our scientifically-illiterate endpoint targets (X% by 2050 etc) give way to a better understanding of cumulative emissions we realize we have essentially squandered any emissions space we may have had. Acknowledging this is challenging and those prepared to go public with their analysis risk ridicule by those proposing up-beat win-win ‘solutions’ attractive to all – regardless of how scientifically incredible they may be.

In the end we need to be make an honest and open choice. The cumulative budget for any reasonable chance of 2C is all but spent – and only the most radical mitigation will achieve even the upper end of the AR4 cumulative emission budget for stabilization at 450ppmv. Alternatively, we could decide to forgo stringent & urgent mitigation, await medium term low-carbon technologies and plan for the impacts of 4C or more. But please, whatever we do, let us be open and scientifically robust in our own and our representation of others’ analysis and proposals.

Posted by Kevin Anderson (Director of the Tyndall Centre referred to in P on 21 Oct 2010

Agree with some of the other posters here, the author seems to be suggesting that because negotiating with messy things like politics, desire for growth, behaviour etc., is unpalatable, we should take the easier route and negotiate with nature. It might be politically attractive but it´s not really grounded in reality. Plus I find the conflation of the rights of the poor to lead better lives and therefore increase their carbon emissions (a right which many environmentalists actually accept) with the desires of the rich to maintain unsustainable lifestyles to be a touch distasteful.

Posted by Rachel Godfrey Wood on 22 Oct 2010

Alex Heyworth,
You are correct that the Earth is not a closed system, but even the inflow of energy from the sun is finite. And it undisputed that we are mining a multitude of resources from fisheries to fossil fuels much faster than they are being built up by natural processes.

Posted by Adam Albright on 22 Oct 2010

Pielke's argument ignores history. He is the one who is out of touch with reality.

Obviously, in a political environment where the issue not seen as a threat by most people, a policy that costs the equivalent of 35 cents/tonne C might slide by in public opinion, when one costing almost 100 times as much, i.e. $30 a tonne causes riots.

Consider the runup to WWII in Britain. No one could persuade the British to drop everything and prepare for total war to annihilate Germany until it was almost too late. Look up "Peace in our Time". British historian Dan Todman talking about the problem for the political leadership of the UK as the crisis intensified:

"So they misjudge how the war is going to be fought. But they're not alone in doing that. I mean there's a widespread misconception amongst the whole population. And the limits on their freedom of action are not just conceptual. Its not that Chamberlain and members of his Cabinet want to continue with business as usual because they are somehow bad people, or that because they believe that always, business must come before national survival. Its really more that they are trapped in a situation, where they can't gain compliance on the part of the population.... So really the Chamberlain government is trapped in a circumstance where it can't generate the national will that's necessary to fight a more total war, even as it becomes more and more convinced as it gets into the spring of 1940 that that is what it has to do. And really it is not until the circumstances change, until the fall of France, and this great threat to Britain that emotionally mobilizes the population, that ANY government can start to do that. And it has to be said that even when the Churchill government comes in in 1940 it takes a far more hesitant approach to the mobilization of domestic efforts than is often assumed. May to June 1940 is not as great and decisive a shift as we sometimes think in terms of things like rationing, and the conscription of women, those are events that take place much later in the war. And they're very concerned, the Churchill coalition, to stay behind the demand curve, really, they're operating inside the same set of limits as their predecessors, but they're doing so in a drastically changed international circumstance."

Pielke argues as if the population will always be ignorant that climate is a matter of survival, for instance in India's case even as Bangladesh disappears under rising seas and nuclear war looms as a result. Given that the population never wakes up to its long term peril, Pielke is right that asking for sacrifice is unlikely to succeed, but given that the population never wakes up, civilization is finished. He'd be better off arguing for his policy on the basis that it is the best that can be done until the political situation changes, rather than trying to convince us that civilization is so permanently stupid it has no future.

Posted by David Lewis on 23 Oct 2010

This is a bit simplistic, I know, but alot of carbon was emitted due to low interest rates of the last decade (thanks Greenspan - this biggest global warmer ever), encouraging massive wasteful growth - not sensible growth. Everyone had to have a new car, 3 holidays, 2 houses, tonnes more junk that you can throw away today and load up next week on more.

So here's an idea, quite ignored, but something at least to spur on some alternative thinking. Link interest rates to carbon emitted - emit lots of carbon - then add a few %. That will put the brakes on irrational growth - oh and controls on how much you can use your house as an ATM.


Posted by bobster on 23 Oct 2010

The CO2 obsession leads to policy makers doing the equivalent of looking for a penny in the corner of a round room.

Perhaps the difficulty in finding a good policy to deal with CO2 is because there is no reason to, except in the minds of the CO2 obsessed?

Posted by hunter on 26 Oct 2010

It is easy to understand why "Climate policies that require public sacrifice and limiting economic growth are doomed to failure". What organism in its right mind would want to curtail its own growth and reproduction with such plentiful cheap energy? Humans?

Not to worry: a depletion (and increase of price) of those energy resources would help and we are halfway there (oil). And this isn't even factoring in the untold sacrifice of the unaccounted for "free" services provided by earth's natural systems that is being devoured by our current industrial capitalist economic system at an alarming rate.

Achieving "success" by way of promising real benefits and making clean energy cheaper is commendable and in a positive direction but in my opinion too little too late to make the impact needed at this point. I agree with Kevin Anderson that we should be planning for the impacts of 4C or more now. However, just as with the "abstract" notion of climate change in the 90's and the squandered time until now we (nation states) will probably squander this opportunity as well.

Right now we need as many ideas as possible. The more we try the likelier we are to find out which ones work and which ones don't. Thanks go to all the people posting them.

Most likely our descendants will be left to adapt to a warmer world where greater climatic uncertainties, depleted resources and human migrations, amongst other, will be the norm. I have no doubt in the human spirit to adapt and for some to make it through the times ahead. It seems to me an unavoidable and neccessary path in our evolutionary and consciousness development. I have faith that someday humans will learn to truly coexist within earth's limits with its creatures in a climax community; they will have to. This gives me hope.

Posted by Jesubmar on 05 Nov 2010

"Most likely our descendants will be left to adapt to a warmer world where greater climatic uncertainties, depleted resources and human migrations, amongst other, will be the norm. I have no doubt in the human spirit to adapt and for some to make it through the times ahead. It seems to me an unavoidable and neccessary path in our evolutionary and consciousness development. I have faith that someday humans will learn to truly coexist within earth's limits with its creatures in a climax community; they will have to. This gives me hope. "

But we have a moral imperative to bring change in our time. Ya never know. Look at Britain. Are they setting a good example or what!?

Posted by TRB on 09 Nov 2010

Read Kevin Anderson's comments again and carefully and you will realize the inference: that
we WILL have to sacrifice and undergo hardship no matter what we do because the science tells
us so. "Nature Bats Last". The choice we have is whether to voluntarily make the hard choices
before we are up against the wall in defensive mode or whether we wait for climate
emergencies to force them on us in far costlier and more unpleasant ways. The convergence of
the climate, energy supply, population and financial crises has given us some advance
notice. If we pretend, as Pielke and others do, that growth and technology will save us, we are
not just courting disaster but guaranteeing it. The irresponsibility of Pielke and his supporters is
truly indefensible. It is time we insisted on the truth, not only homilies and faith in self-appointed experts with narrow self-serving agendas.

Posted by Lorna Salzman on 18 Apr 2011

Comments have been closed on this feature.
roger a. pielke jr.ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roger A. Pielke Jr. is a professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Colorado and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). His latest book, The Climate Fix, was recently published. He is also a senior fellow of the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland, Calif.-based think tank. In earlier articles for Yale Environment 360, he has argued that setting carbon emissions targets is an unrealistic policy and has urged major reform of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.



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With new marine protected areas and an emerging U.N. treaty, global ocean conservation efforts are on the verge of a major advance. But to enforce these ambitious initiatives, new satellite-based technologies and newly available online data must be harnessed.

Why Supreme Court’s Action
Creates Opportunity on Climate

by david victor
The U.S. Supreme Court order blocking the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan may have a silver lining: It provides an opportunity for the U.S. to show other nations it has a flexible, multi-faceted approach to cutting emissions.

With Court Action, Obama’s
Climate Policies in Jeopardy

by michael b. gerrard
The U.S. Supreme Court order blocking President Obama’s plan to cut emissions from coal-burning power plants is an unprecedented step and one of the most environmentally harmful decisions ever made by the nation’s highest court.

Beyond the Oregon Protests:
The Search for Common Ground

by nancy langston
Thrust into the spotlight by a group of anti-government militants as a place of confrontation, the Malheur wildlife refuge is actually a highly successful example of a new collaboration in the West between local residents and the federal government.

Beyond Keystone: Why Climate
Movement Must Keep Heat On

by bill mckibben
It took a committed coalition and the increasingly harsh reality of climate change to push President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. But sustained public pressure will now be needed to force politicians to take the next critical actions on climate.

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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land.
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The latest
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S.
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Ugandan scientists monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife.
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Food waste
An e360 video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs.
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Colorado wildfires
An e360 video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate.
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup.
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