“How will the U.S. government tackle climate change? A recent report suggests that the intelligence community could benefit from the creation of an open and collaborative group to study and mitigate climate change.” (Source: Huffington Post)
American defence and intelligence circles are getting increasingly worried about the national and global security implications of the climate crisis. Could this change the Republicans views on the subject and lead in the longer run to more US mitigation action? I have my doubts as the American climate scepticism has little to do with being well informed but more with political ideology and the strong belief that the “American way of life” is non-negotiable. Any efforts to transform the Empire of Abundance into a champion of low-carbon living is likely to lead to internal security threats too as lots of Americans would not accept any constraints in their material consumption.
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has just published one of the best studies on the strengths and weaknesses of the models and assumptions used in recent climate economics publications.
The SEI authors conclude that "climate economics tends to lag behind climate science" and make several interesting recommendations to improve this important economic analysis.
It was to be expected that some of the usual climate change deniers would be pretty upset when Al Gore and the IPCC scientists were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. My price for the most grotesque reaction goes to the Competitive Enterprise Institute which accused Gore of creating “global instability and political strife, within nations and between nations”.
That being said, most media, especially in the US, jumped on the question whether the climate crusader should now go for the highest price of all: the American Presidency. US Magazine Time had the best commentary on this question: “Running for President would mean returning to a role he’d already transcended. He’d turn into — again — just another politician, when a lot of people thought he might be something better than that“. Moreover, as President, Gore will not only have to solve the climate crisis, but will have to compromise his position by trying to find acceptable answers to other calamities such as the US exorbitant trade deficit, the lost war in Iraq and the stalling fight agains global terrorism.
BTW: I doubt whether climate change will really be THE defining issue of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, as suggested by some media commentators. The American public certainly has enough issues to be concerned about and the climate issue might just be one which it knows the American President can not solve on his own.
But there is also another reason why Gore SHOULD not apply: like most other candidates, he lacks a concrete vision on how to put the world on track to the “spaceship Earth energy and economy” revolution. It is one thing to recommend big greenhouse gas reductions, it is another to work out how to get there. And I do not believe Gore is much ahead of other potential candidates for the White House. Thomas Friedmann has the following to say about the energy vision of most candidates in his New York Times article “Who will succeed Al Gore?“: “… we still need a president who can unify the country around meaningful action on energy and climate. Most of the Democratic candidates mouth the right words, but I don’t sense much real passion. Most of the Republican candidates seem to be brain-dead on the energy/climate challenge“.
Moreover, just like all other candidates Al Gore neglects the other side of our energy predicament: the increasing gap between energy supply and demand and the societal and economic implications of this future “peak energy” crisis. As the next ten years will be essential to start our “energy/economy revolution”, we need more visionary leaders and I really doubt whether they will emerge out of our political elites.