The Philosophy of Global Warming


If you are interested in the relationship between the human species and the rest of life on Earth, individual and collective human purpose, evolution, cosmology, the nature of reality, astrology, spirituality, and how all of this relates to global warming & the environmental crisis of modernity, then I am sure that you will like my new book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. In the post below I have provided the book description, the list of contents and the first two sections of the book. You can find out how to get hold of the book by clicking on this link:

The Philosophy of Global Warming





Friday, 26 October 2012

The futility of emissions cuts

In the previous post, in response to an article in The Metro, I claimed that attempting to deal with global warming by making efficiency/resource savings is hopeless. I concluded that:


"Don't fool yourself into believing that your time would be well spent "urging politicians to make efficiency savings". If you want to do something of real value then spend every waking moment urging politicians, environmentalists, academics, the media, charities, and everyone you meet, that the need for full-scale geoengineering of the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere is real and imminent."


Since this post a paper has been published by scientists Dr Jasper Knight and Dr Stephan Harrison in which they claim that it is too late to deal with global warming though emissions cuts. In other words, attempting to deal with global warming by making efficiency/resource savings is hopeless. Knight and Harrison state that:


"At present, governments' attempts to limit greenhouse-gas emissions through carbon cap-and-trade schemes and to promote renewable and sustainable energy sources are probably too late to arrest the inevitable trend of global warming,"

Nature Climate Change, Monday, 14 October 2012:



I am glad that Knight and Harrison can see the futility of emissions cuts. What do they suggest we should do? They argue for a switch in concentration from mitigation policies to adaption policies. This means that, in the face of global warming, optimal outcomes can be attained in terms of sustainability, food security and biodiversity. They claim that much more research is needed into how global warming will impact on Earth surface systems so that these optimal outcomes can be attained:


"Earth surface systems provide water and soil resources, sustain ecosystem services and strongly influence biogeochemical climate feedbacks in ways that are as yet uncertain"


When one appreciates that there are forces which are hurtling the planet towards future global warming, forces which themselves cannot be stopped, then it is understandable to conclude, "we cannot stop these forces/global warming, so let's adapt to global warming".

However, I find this conclusion a deeply troubling one; troubling because it seems clear to me that we are not talking about just a small degree of global warming. If in the future there was only a small amount of global warming, then Knight and Harrison would be spot on in their urgings for adaption policies to attain optimal outcomes for food security, sustainability and biodiversity.

There is obviously a wide range of views, and a great degree of uncertainty, concerning exactly how much global warming can be expected in the near future. As I've said, my interpretation of the way that the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth have been 'temporarily temporally perturbed', leads to the conclusion that there are time-lag forces which are set to unleash a massive amount of global warming; an amount which would wreak devastation on the human species and most of our fellow planetary companions.

If this is right, then whilst Knight and Harrison are sensible to call for a greater emphasis on adaption policy research, we should fully embrace the reality that adaption policies cannot adequately deal with anything other than a trifling amount of global warming. The policy we need is to offset the forces which are set to cause global warming; in other words, we need to actively regulate planetary conditions to stop global warming from occurring.

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