Yeah, I could give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's referring to an unnaturally fast rise of the oceans. If so, I wish that he would have used those words. I think that if there's anything we don't need in the conversation about global warming, it's obfuscation and glossing-over.
I noticed that the Obama campaign left this last little chunk of the video off of the Obama website, so maybe they feel the same way I do.
to be honest, I don't understand your argument at all.
I guess he's not factually wrong. It's more of a letter-of-the-law versus spirit-of-the-law sort of thing. It rubs me the wrong way.
I'm being picky, but when I vote for someone and give them money, I think I get to be picky and hold them to a high standard.
okay, but what's all this about the ocean?
Wikipedia says it better than I can: the ocean is rising
. I think this is not the kind of thing that we can solve, or even think about, in terms of a political "moment". I think we're doomed if we try to think about it on the same time scale as we think about ending the war and implementing universal health care.
We're probably doomed anyway, but let's talk about what we can
do on a time scale that humans are capable of holding in our heads, y'know?
in other words: I prefer a candidate who rearranges the deckchairs on the titanic?
Zing! No, I'm not saying I want useless things. I want a candidate who understands that we're going to have to evolve. I want a serious 50-year governmental initiative to reduce car trips. I want a serious 50-year governmental initiative to promote locally produced food. But I also want us to be realistic in terms of how much we can actually affect the sea level, and start thinking about how hundreds of millions of people will be able to relocate further inland one day.
2008-06-06 02:13 am (UTC)
Well, I would say we can pretty realistically affect the sea level as much as we want in a very speedy manner. If we blow up several major volcanoes then we could drop ocean levels pretty darn fast (global dimming, leading to global heat loss - sort of a mild nuclear winter scenario), and if we decide instead to drop dark sand on all the ice we can find then we could go the other way.
It's a matter of giving a damn - which we clearly haven't for the past 7 years. (Although I do think that the act of giving a damn about the planet would probably preclude either of the above scenarios, and more realistic ones would be slower to take effect.)
Also, even more worrying, we don't really have 50 years with respect to global climate change. We have, like, maybe 5 or 10 max. After that, we're either diving into unprecedented territory for humans that has, in the fossil record, been correlated with massive extinctions, or we won't be, because we've made some pretty big changes.
Heh. Last week I found myself lecturing my husband's CEO's teenage children on how there's always a solution to any political problem if you're willing to accept a worse problem than you started with. I think it extends to any real-world problem, just about.
Now I'm wondering how to do practical global dimming -- airborne particulates are bad for animals, including us, and lowered light levels are bad for many sorts of plants, but the overall notion is mysteriously seductive.
2008-06-06 05:13 pm (UTC)
I guess I've still got some geoengineering‡
optimism about using OTEC
s as a sort of global air conditioner. (Blame Marshall Savage
. And Patri
But you have a good point: sometimes, we have failure. And not just failure of new ideas, but persistent, ongoing, disastrous failure. And, yeah, maybe a man that everyone compares to JFK is the right person to spark the environmental Apollo Project
. But there's nothing that we can do that that guarantees that Miami and Alexandria
. But it's an open question: is it possible to speak hard truths in an election? Or are those the issues you must save for leadership-during-the-unexpected-crisis?‡geoengineering at this point is a synonym for "let's try something extremely dangerous!"
2008-06-05 05:34 pm (UTC)
ZOMG ARE YOU IMPLYING THAT HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE????!?!?!?
Don't tell anyone, but I heard a rumor we weren't even the masters of the earth.
"Last, best hope"? I wonder if he's a B5 fan.
I have to say, reading the speech, I was a little surprised that he left out the part where he feeds 5,000 people on two loaves and five fishes and raises the dead :).
Hey - I'm just glad I wasn't the only one who saw that "last best hope" bit and smiled a guilty geek grin of indulgence to myself.
When I read your post, I thought you meant that Obama was acting unlike every other politician in my lifetime by including anti-warming efforts so prominently in this otherwise traditional litany of Democratic priorities. Democrats have promised to expand care for the sick since Roosevelt, and about half of them have succeeded. "Good jobs for the jobless"? Does anybody really think the federal government can do that these days?
As far as the facts go, I'm thrilled to allow him a metaphysical interpretation of "began to slow" in exchange for that sort of prominence.
That said, I too wish he were asking us for more sacrifices than this abstract cap-and-trade stuff, and worry that (as always) he's setting expectations too high. I guess "unreasonably high expectations" might be part of that whole "part teacher and part advocate"
So, to summarize: don't not criticize, but count your blessings! It's always like this. That's what I think.