Year 3, Month 12, Day 10: Have You Met Miss Jones?

The Virginian-Pilot has a good op-ed, titled, “Struggling to care about climate change”:

The world, with the exception of Europe, has done almost nothing to arrest global warming. Despite a treaty or two and decades of hand-wringing, the pull of prosperity has been simply too strong, especially in Asia and the Americas.

U.S. politicians have done a shameful nothing, too many pretending that settled science remains in doubt, too many grubbing money from coal and oil and electricity companies, which have it to give.

In the meantime, the Obama administration – as others have before – talks a better game than it delivers on climate change, arguing that meager progress amounts to moving mountains. It is no more persuasive from this White House than it was from its predecessors.

The problem grows worse. Developing nations are burning coal because it’s cheap and wood because it’s handy, so greenhouse gases continue to flow. With emerging nations eager for energy-hungry technologies, and wanting to replace bicycles and transit with cars – who can blame them? – the continued progress of planetary warming is no great surprise.

Still, surprises come.

According to a new study released at the largely ignored United Nations climate change talks in Qatar, the world’s seas are rising faster than projections. Temperatures are climbing, too.

All fine and good, but that phrase in the first paragraph sets my teeth on edge. Sent December 4:

Advocates for action on global warming need to avoid the misleading economic perspective setting “prosperity” and the environment at odds with one another. Americans’ reluctance to move forward with sensible policies on climate change is not just because we’re addicted to oil; it’s also because we’re addicted to shopping.

If we are to face the threats posed by the metastasizing greenhouse effect, we must transform our relationship to the things we buy, and to our notion of economic well-being. Ultimately, Earth’s resources are the foundation of all wealth; without air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat, the gaudiest baubles of our consumer economy offer no solace. If the economy is the metabolism of our civilization, then the “prosperity” of unbridled consumerism is the equivalent of a junk-food diet — fast and habit-forming, but unhealthy and wasteful. Genuine prosperity, by contrast, is like a home-grown, home-cooked meal, eaten slowly with friends.

I know what I like. How about you?

Warren Senders

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