Shiny Seas

Shiny Sea and Cloud, Wiseman's BridgeSpring has brought a nice combination of cloud and sun to the coast – as the photos show, great for glitter. The swell lines were also picked out by the sunlight, but there was almost no swell there to pick out, just smooth sea.

There had been a heavy rainstorm just before the photos – and that’s more evident in the picture lower down. Anyway, rather arty.

I read a review of The Uninhabitable Earth which recommended it so I bought it  on a cheap offer (6.99) – it’s a global warming ‘possible trajectories’ sort of book. So far, most interesting. Of course, it is very unlikely under any of the current scenarios that the earth would ever be uninhabitable, so the title is just hyperbole (or a sales gimmick). Two things stood out for me – one was the statement that 50% of all the carbon we’ve released has been in the last 30 years (wow, though that does cover the period of the rise of China, now the world’s biggest overall emitter, etc), the other was the hopelessness of the response so far (the book suggests that 3°C of heating is probably the most optimistic that we can now be). Most people are, perhaps, aware that 2°C has long been the limit of non-catastrophic climate change.

So much for the big points, the book is also good at getting at the finer detail of the difference between no warming, 2 degrees, 3 degrees and more. It points out one of the major dilemmas in tackling climate change – individuals generally won’t change their behaviour (get rid of the 4WD, walk to the shops, rarely catch a flight) because most people aren’t highly determined by an abstract or reflective view of  ‘what’s right’ but rather by what keeps up with the next door neighbours, amuses them, makes them feel OK, etc, so you’d think it was governmental action that would be key – but no government making the sort of actions we desperately need (fuel escalator set to high, flight taxes, carbon taxes, big subsidies for electric vehicles, more subsidies for public transport, etc) would get elected – prevented by these very same people. Evidently whatever policy would have to make sure that the poor don’t lose their access to transport while the rich can still afford to fill up, but it doesn’t look electable, especially given the gilets jaunes protests in Europe. All those modules I took in ethical theory were rather irrelevant, it turns out, most people don’t bother with ethics as such, whether utilitarian or of virtue, etc. Social solidarities and pragmatics seem far more important. Indeed, perhaps morality, as Nietzsche said, is just a Platonist / Christian thing and now getting long in the tooth. There are many curious psychological features of how people don’t deal with climate change – a rather too assertive and unevidenced denial, silly alternative theories (the ‘natural not humanly caused’ sort of thing), displacing the blame (‘it’s the governments job’), an smug assertion of inability to change anything in their lives (‘kids have to be taken to school’, etc).

Wiseman's Shiny SeaThe book has also pointed out the obvious oddity of people condemning their grandchildren, supposedly their beloved offspring, to a dangerous, perhaps lethal, world of super heatwaves, likely resource conflict and tropical diseases spreading north, just because they can’t give up frequent flights (though most people don’t fly that much, a few people fly very frequently) and are too lazy to walk to the shops…. Yes,  I know you, dear reader and member like me of the conscientious 10%, walk to the shops but most people don’t….

There is an obvious link between the shiny sea and global warming – the beach will mostly have disappeared even with just a couple of degrees of warming – well, 2°C will give us, eventually, six meters of sea rise according to footnotes 13 and 14 in the chapter on ‘drowning’. Well that would certainly mean, eventually (a bit after my lifespan I suspect since the sea level effect lags the temperature rise), no beach.

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