A new day has dawned, and with it, a new draft of a new United Nations report on climate change has leaked unto the world. Like the turning pages of a calendar as one draws closer to death, the report brings tidings that grow worse, and worse, and worse.
If you had to characterize for a mass audience what technical stage of global warming we find ourselves in now, it would be “The final stage where we decide if we will even attempt to try to do anything to make the looming disaster marginally less disastrous for our grandchildren, or whether we will simply fuck around and allow doom to sweep over them, because we will be dead by then.” We are already well past the “Is global warming real?” and “Global warming is real but we need to figure out how to convince the public that it is real” and “Okay we all understand that global warming is real but we can still plausibly pretend to not believe it is real in order to continue to drive our Toyota Highlanders” phases of belief. Even the most non-hippie institutions now say that global warming is real, it is here, and it is coming to swallow our cities in its humid maw.
The draft of the latest UN report (the official version of which will be released in November) is just like all the past reports, except, you know, more so. More doom, more apocalypse, more lapping waves sneaking over the front steps of your beachfront compound, Mr. Bush. Perhaps the most depressing aspect of all of this is that, even if we do find the political will and the popular will to actually enact some of the sacrifices that will be necessary to hold global warming to less awful levels, we still need to either compel or convince the energy industry to leave hundred upon hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term profits on the table. The New York Times notes that “The report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of these [fossil] fuels at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level.”
If you believe in humanity’s ability to rein in our short term impulses in order to preserve at least a bit of long term stability, you should dump your oil stocks. We need to leave at least 75% of the oil in the ground if we are to avoid disaster. One way to do this is to, at a certain point, outlaw drilling and extracting oil. That is unlikely, given the size of the oil and gas lobby in DC. Another way is to pass a carbon tax, which is our only hope. Or, we can all just sit on back and watch the tide come in.