Shocking World Bank Climate Report: ‘A 4°C [7°F] World Can, And Must, Be Avoided’ To Avert ‘Devastating’ Impacts

And So The Bank Must Stop Funding All New Fossil Fuel Plants

Another day, another staid international organization reviews the latest climate science and rings the loudest possible alarm.

The World Bank’s sobering new report, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” warns that “we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.”

Bank President Jim Yong Kim sums up the report with this blunt headline in the UK Guardian:

The latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action

A world four degrees warmer could be too hot to handle, but the exciting prospect of low-carbon living could stop it happening

This report should end the delusion that humanity can risk the preferred strategy of either the deniers (inaction) — or the hand-waving centrists (more research and development). The findings of this report match those of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found that limiting warming to even 7°F requires “nearly quadrupling the current rate of decarbonisation.” That means the only rational clean-tech strategy for a non-suicidal species is “Deploy, Deploy, Deploy, R&D, Deploy, Deploy, Deploy [yes, not in that order].

The Bank report reviews the grim projections from dozens of the latest scientific studies (which I summarized here). It warns that “there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.” For instance, we face sea levels that could be rising an inch a year by century’s end! How do we adapt to that?

The impact on food security is particularly worrisome, with the latest science “much less optimistic” that the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment report:

These results suggest instead a rapidly rising risk of crop yield reductions as the world warms. Large negative effects have been observed at high and extreme temperatures in several regions including India, Africa, the United States, and Australia. For example, significant nonlinear effects have been observed in the United States for local daily temperatures increasing to 29°C for corn and 30°C for soybeans. These new results and observations indicate a significant risk of high-temperature thresholds being crossed that could substantially undermine food security globally in a 4°C world.

And that’s just temperature rise: “Compounding these risks is the adverse effect of projected sea-level rise on agriculture in important low-lying delta areas.” And then we have the threat to seafood of ocean acidification. Finally, we have Dust-Bowlification:

The report also says drought-affected areas would increase from 15.4% of global cropland today, to around 44% by 2100. The most severely affected regions in the next 30 to 90 years will likely be in southern Africa, the United States, southern Europe and Southeast Asia, says the report. In Africa, the report predicts 35% of cropland will become unsuitable for cultivation in a 5°C world.

That final point is worth underscoring: 4°C [7°F]  is not even the high end of projected warming for 2100 if we stay near our current emissions path (see “The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100).”

The first and last line of President Kim’s Foreword are “It is my hope that this report shocks us into action…. The World Bank Group will step up to the challenge.”

Let’s hope he means it. The Bank’s inconsistency on climate has been widely noted — see “Why Does the World Bank Say it Cares About Climate Change, But Continue to Aggressively Push Coal?” The Bank has kept financing large coal plants — most infamously providing a $3.75 billion loan for one of the world’s largest coal plants, located in South Africa. The Bank also pushed a 600-MW coal plant in Kosovo.

On the basis of this report, the bank must stop funding all new fossil fuel plants. I use the word “must” because that is the word the report and President Kim repeatedly use.

And it must be “all new fossil fuel plants” because the International Energy Agency has made clear this year with detailed analysis that natural gas isn’t the solution if your goal is staying far from 7°F warming — see IEA’s “Golden Age of Gas Scenario” Leads to More Than 6°F Warming and Out-of-Control Climate Change. It must be noted that even that IEA gas scenario, which results in too much warning, assumes that not only does global oil consumption peak around 2020 — but so does coal! So if one or both of those peaks don’t happen — and they wouldn’t without a high price of carbon and aggressively clean energy deployment starting now — then the Golden Age of Gas is just Hell and High Water, the  “devastating” scenario laid out in the World Bank report.

The time for action was a long time ago, but further delay means we are consciously abandoning our responsibility to our children and indeed all future generations.

49 Responses to Shocking World Bank Climate Report: ‘A 4°C [7°F] World Can, And Must, Be Avoided’ To Avert ‘Devastating’ Impacts

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    If the World Bank means it, they will not only stop financing new coal plants, they will suspend funding for existing projects. Otherwise, they are being ridiculous.

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    Must read current issue of NewScientist

    Climate change: It’s even worse than we thought

  3. Joe,

    Great article, except for the concluding comment: “The time for action was a long time ago, but further delay means we are consciously abandoning our responsibility to our children and indeed all future generations.”

    I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 67 and I’m not worried about future generations. I’m worried about my generation, right now, and all living people, right now. AGW is hitting much sooner than expected, and the speed of its manifestation appears to be exponential. A lot of bad things are already happening and they will only get worse in the coming years.

    So let’s stop talking about future generations and let everybody know that the effects they are feeling NOW are the result of carbon that’s been accumulating in the atmosphere for a century.

  4. Paul Magnus says:

    Obama should fulfil his 2008 climate promises
    20 November 2012

    “WE WANT our children to live in an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” ….

    That was welcome after a campaign in which both sides ducked the issue.

    But Obama still didn’t say quite the right thing. It’s not just our children we should be worrying about.

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    “Obama can perhaps be forgiven for casting climate change as a future challenge. The scientists who drew up the last major report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 may have taken that view too. But it is now becoming clear that the report underestimated how quickly the planet would respond to warming and how serious the effects are likely to be.”

  6. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I hope the report is already on the desk of the Aussie Minister for Big Holes in the Ground, ME

  7. Amy Luers says:

    The World Bank report is an important reminder that the climate keeps changing, even as we debate about whether it is. Does this report mark a shift, are we giving in to accepting greater risks? I hope not.

    The report comes out at a critical time for Americans still struggling in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, which has re-sparked a public discussion about the climate crisis. We must keep front and center the full range of issues as communities across the storm-struck coastlines clean up and rebuild, we must re-think how we build, where we build, and what levels of risk we will accept for ourselves in the children. The biggest challenge is insuring we have standards and policies that keep us within these limits. Many of these forces are hard to see.

    I am particularly drawn these days to Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine which explains our addiction to risk. Society has become addicted to extreme risks in finding new energy, building new financial instruments, and building our cities. As Klein points out, the result is that too often, we’re left to clean up a mess afterward. In the case of climate change, we will be mostly be leaving the mess to our children. In the case of our development plans we are leaving the waste to our tax dollars.

    A bit more on this in my post today:

  8. Jim Baird says:

    Warming oceans are threatening phytoplankton and the fish that will survive will be smaller due to reduce oxygen levels in warmer waters.

    The insurance companies are also MIA in this battle.

  9. FWhite says:

    “The latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action.”

    None of the dozens of previous frightening predictions have shocked us into action, so why should we believe this one will?

    Information alone does not change behavior.

    But dozens more super-storms on the scale of Sandy might move us closer to building an effective multifaceted mass movement along the lines described by Tim Gee in his book “Counterpower: Making Change Happen”.

  10. carole.russell says:

    You should read Dr. Peter Sale’s book “Our Dying Planet”. He predicts that by 2050 there will no longer be any coral reefs left in the world. That is the death of entire ecosystems, not just a species.

  11. Aussie John says:

    Capitalism’s fatal flaw is unbridled rapacity.
    All living things on Earth will pay the price for the last 200 years or so of myopic plunder.
    Selfish greed and avarice has no social conscience.
    Earth’s viability for future life is not a factor on corporate balance sheets.

  12. Merrelyn Emery says:

    And they are critical ecosystems because they are also the spawning grounds and sanctuaries for the young of many species that migrate elsewhere, ME

  13. PeterM says:

    you are so right- we will have to learn from horrible consequences going forward.

  14. The really frightening thing is that the IEA is underselling the risks by choosing 4 C. I understand rhetorically why they are doing it, but it’s pretty clear we’re headed for 5 C above preindustrial times by 2100 unless we drastically change course. See the MIT no-policy case for the best documented example:

  15. Sorry, I meant World Bank, not IEA.

  16. Almost. Capitalism’s fatal flaw is actually capital. By it’s nature, it needs to accumulate, or enlarge constantly. Invested capital needs growth to yield a return, and idle capital diminishes in proportion to missed investment opportunities — therefore will be reinvested spurring more growth. And of course, endless growth is not possible on a finite planet.

  17. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    World Bank’s report is a WAKE UP call for All Nations to act swiftly.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  18. Sasparilla says:

    Great article Joe, and very nice job of pointing out where the World Bank has been very recently complicit and making this hell of a future a reality – it would be stunning if they stepped up and linked their commercial actions with what they are officially saying on climate change.

    Here’s hoping they do that (considering what they’ve said, at least the possibility might exist). Turning off the capital flow to finance new carbon pollution plants – is a necessary step required for a livable a future.

  19. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Jonathan –
    with respect I have to differ with your view that:
    “. . . it’s pretty clear we’re headed for 5.0C above preindustrial times by 2100 unless we drastically change course.”

    From the following basic assessment it seems clear that 5.0C by 2100 is demonstrably lower than we’d achieve by urgent action for the ‘best case’ emissions control of ‘near-zero by 2050’.

    phase-out emissions pre-2050 will add at least 0.6C to the ‘pipeline-warming’ of 0.7C that is timelagged by ocean thermal inertia, which is added to the 0.8C realized, giving a first total of 2.1C.

    But, ending our fossil emissions ends our output of fossil sulphate and thus our maintenance of the ‘Sulphare Parasol’, which Hansen & Sato report will raise warming by 110% (+/-30%) giving a second total of 4.41C (+/- 0.6C), timelagged by ~30 years to 2080.

    BUT, under just 0.8C realized we have at least six out of seven interactive mega-feedbacks already accelerating, several of which are evidently capable of dwarfing current anthro-emissions. The most advanced is albedo loss, which is reported as already imposing a forcing equivalent to about 30% of our CO2 output, and is thus, by itself, nearing the point of fully offsetting the average natural sink capacity of 43% of that CO2 output.

    In the 68 years before 2080, with continuous warming to ~4.4C off our ‘best case’ of emissions control, I suggest that the feedbacks’ interactions would undoubtedly have taken us well over 5.0C, and likely higher still. Thereafter warming would predictably continue at a pace dictated by those interactive feedbacks.

    This is by no means a counsel of despair – rather it aims to clarify what has to be obvious to fully informed authorities – such as both IEA and World Bank – that to avoid a catastrophic failure of global agriculture a broader mitigation strategy is required:
    specifically one including treaty commitments to fully-accountable and closely-supervised global programs of both Carbon Recovery and Albedo Restoration, as well as to rapid Emissions Control.

    Washington’s deliberate disdain of a global climate treaty is notably at odds with this requirement, as there is no prospect of a unilateral operation of the requisite geo-engineering of Albedo Restoration owing to its direct degradation of nations’ sovereignty carrying the potential to trigger concerted sanctions – up to and including military responses.

    I would differ with Joe’s description that this World Bank report “rings the loudest possible alarm” – as neither this nor any other UN agency has yet candidly decried the US policy of a Brinkmanship of Inaction as:
    “a wreckless and genocidal bipartisan policy attempting to preserve America’s global economic dominance, regardless of casualties and damages imposed.”

    But it is an unprecedentedly bluntly coded warning to Washington – from a previously very reticent global authority – that its policy is grossly unsustainable and must be reviewed forthwith. Following the scale of impacts since 2010, the new urgency arises from the recognition that while both the necessary geo-engineering research and the negotiation of a durable commensurate treaty will take years to bear fruit, the odds of a catastophic global crop failure and geo-political destabilization are now rising year by year.

    I make no apology for contributing a view from outside of America’s bubble of a fabricated circus of denial-&-rebuttal – I just wish more Americans would start to consider exactly what is being done in their name.



  20. Charles says:

    AS much as I value Joe’s work in helping get the message out there in effective ways, I also suspect you are right: we will need the experience of more extremes to convince us to action.

    It will be interesting to see in the long run how much influence Sandy, the recent/current drought, the record-breaking temps this year, the record loss of Arctic sea ice. I worry that it will take even more to get us acting in a substantive fashion.

  21. Stephen says:

    Agreed. The World Bank is going to look really stupid by producing a hard hitting report and then blatantly ignoring its own advice. If it does that, why would anyone at all pay any attention to any of their (presumably expensive) reports?

  22. pete best says:

    Ah yes here we are on the entire ACC Debacle when it comes planning for a low carbon future. In the UK newspaper the Guardian today although this was available some weeks ago ( there is a report stating that globally 1200 coal fired power plants are in the pipeline.

    The world bank then produce this report ( statng that as investments go, ACC is very real and very bad for their business and hence our global certainty.

    However in report one regarding who is backing coal globally, the world bank is mentioned as investing $5 billion along with a lot more banks investing in the billionsso its a big contradiction or is it that the written word is easy regardless of how scary it is whilst reality is unstoppable. So forget your government and Judith Curry, and all of the pontificating, its time to lobby your banks at along with Bill Mcgibbon and get them to stop investing in these projects.

    Its one surefire way to stop those 1200 coal fired power stations from being built. James Hansen is right in getting arrested whilst everyone just talks about it.

  23. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Mike – in one sense what you say is spot on – but from another it looks like a crude and callous nationalism –
    ‘We’ve got the electricity we need, and largely coal-fired at that, and have been running those plants for many decades. Other nations have no right to add to our ongoing and cumulative pollution by building new coal-fired power plants.’

    While American cities go into shock if they’re without power for a day or two, there are over a billion people living every day without electricity, and trying to make a living with grossly intermittent supply, that the 1,200 planned stations would serve.
    And the plain fact is that coal-fired electricity is still the cheapest new-build option, meaning that it gets chosen by developing nations who then request development-funding assistance from the World Bank, as is their right.

    It would seem grossly unethical to tell the impoverished dark-skinned people of say Bangladesh that,
    “No, you can’t have any help to build a coal fired power station”,
    while the people of New York and New Jersey are being told,
    “We’ll get you linked back up to your coal-fired power station just as soon as humanly possible.” Hell, how many tens of gigatonnes of airborne CO2 are they already liable for ?

    To find a fair balance to this impasse it needs to be acknowledged that America’s share of the viable global carbon budget reflects its population size (~4.4%) constrained by its liability for historic emissions (~27% since 1900). Its fair emissions rights will not cover its usage even under stringent emissions controls, so logically it must start to buy surplus emission rights from countries such as Bangladesh with low outputs and minimal historic liabilities, in return for the revenues being ring-fenced to sustainable energy and agriculture developments.

    From this perspective the impasse over developing nations’ eminent right to provide energy to their people is readily resolved. Revenues from traded emission rights cover not the whole cost of a new plant, but are spread across numerous plants covering the extra capital costs of solar-thermal, ocean wave, geothermal, etc.

    Meanwhile America, and other developed nations, have a direct financial incentive by buying emission rights to replace their entire stock of fossil fuelled plant ASAP.

    This is the basis of the viable treaty that establishes a global carbon budget, that allocates national shares of emission rights converging from the de facto rights of current national usage to international per capita parity of rights by an agreed date, with the trading of those emission rights to where they are needed to ensure both that no nation is crushed into reneging and that globally the pace of ending fossil fuel dependence is maximized.

    This is the treaty that Obama must be brought to negotiate, and as he said soon after being elected,
    “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.”



  24. John McCormick says:

    Lewis, I rarely print out comments. Yours, however, deserves a frame. Thank you for some numbers and truth.

  25. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    John – thanks for your generous response. It is heartening to know that increasing numbers of people are seeing through the official charade to what is needed.



  26. NJP1 says:

    The continued promotion of commerce has brought us thus far, and will continue until no further commercial interaction , other than on a primitive rudimentary level, is possible. Trade, (the manufacture of goods in return for employment and remuneration) is what drives this current era of our species, and insisting the we must voluntarily cease what has given us an illusion of wealth is I fear a vain hope.
    We are locked into an energy consuming system that provides employment and wages and food for us, and despite dire warning, we will go on demanding employment wages and food.
    So before blathering on endlessly about how to get out of this mess, it might be an interesting exercise to think about how we got into it.
    10,000 years ago the first farmers grew enough food (energy) to support themselves, and as their farming skills improved they found they had a little left over which might have paid for someone to guard it, or a holy man to pray over it. How the excess was used is irrelevant, it was surplus energy and became a trading medium for exchange of skills and creation of employment; using it for other than food meant that energy could be tokenised. The soldier needed weapons, the holy man needed a house of worship, neither could be paid for unless there was a surplus of food-energy to do so. In basic terms, the churchbuilder and the weapon maker had jobs. Their wages were paid by surplus energy which was the conversion of one form of energy into another, producing heat.
    Tokenising energy converted it into money, which is still used to trade skills, and pay wages.
    By doing so an ‘economy’ was created, but the value of money could only be sustained by constantly producing more energy, and by the same token more jobs. Builders need lots of ancilliary trades, as do armies; in no time at all castles and cities appeared, employing everyone from kings to garbage collectors, fitting in politicians, lawyers and economists somewhere in between.
    ‘Society’ really is that simple.
    But it wasn’t industrial; all work was through the output of human or animal musclepower, with a little extra thrown in by water and windmills. Fire only provided heat and light.
    If you wanted a castle or a cathedral built, you conscripted (or enslaved) an army of men to do it by hand, stone by stone. Weapons and tools were hand forged blade by blade. We didn’t have the spare (food-energy) capacity to grow our population into billions, or the means to generate mass production.
    There was no industrial society until we developed the steam engine, and that gave us colossal leverage to extract fossilised energy from the earth, burn it and delude ourselves that ‘industrial society’ was our new and infinite normality of wealth and excess. In basic terms, burning fuel provided jobs. It still does.
    Suddenly we could all have castles instead of hovels. Few us bother to think of the source of our wealth, because believing in ‘sustainable industry’ adds to the delusion that our wheeled society can roll on forever; there may be a little belt tightening here and there, but nothing serious. We like our individual castles with all their energy consuming mod cons, and won’t give them up no matter how dire the warnings about our climate.
    There are simply too many of us making demands on nature, we will go on burning fuel until nature puts a stop to it.
    whatever heat level the planet reaches, it will have nothing to do with us. Humanity has now reached the level of plague species in global terms; climate change is merely the sneeze by which the world is telling us that it is on the road to recovery.
    I fear we are not to be part of that, we have outstayed our welcome.

  27. Daniel Coffey says:

    With the all the no, no, no bouncing around this column, I never see anyone talking about the delays due to a systematic opposition by environmental groups to large scale wind and solar (they favor tiny scale solar on rooftop). Nobody wants coal plants, but they are afraid to build wind and large scale solar because of views, habitat and other relatively trivial concerns. It’s time for the environmental groups to stop playing stupid delay games and start supporting large scale wind, geothermal and solar, along with transmission to support all of the above. Otherwise, the choice will be simple: no civilization for the poor, no future for the middle class, and no fun for us all.

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Prepare to be amused.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    He is only concerned to retain the faith of his owners and controllers for four more years. So, pretend it is a problem for his daughters’ generation, and roll over and go back to sleep for the duration.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Morrun Fungusson? You’ll have to sit him on your lap and read it to him, and explain the big words.

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The thing about risk is that the global plutocratic elite do not like it. They insist on ‘certainty’ for themselves, ie the certainty that their wealth and power will grow like cancer, without let or hindrance. ‘Risk’ is for the serfs, the 99%, the ‘little people’, who they despise with vigour.

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    All such predictions are immediately met by a wall of Rightwing denialism in the MSM, with the usual trolls screeching ‘alarmism’ and ‘watermelons’ and similar stigmata of the intellectual vacuity and moral insanity. Indeed, in Australia (it rhymes with ‘failure’) denialism in the Rightwing MSM is more determined and vociferous than ever, and a general witch-hunt against all environmental law and renewable energy is reaching familiarly hysterical levels.

  33. Joe Romm says:

    Most major enviro groups support large-scale renewables. You are talking about (some) local groups.

  34. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Not until I’ve given him a good scrub. You never know where these little barbarians have been – or who they have been with, ME

  35. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I fear this is where the USA’s appreciation of fairness and equity comes to a screeching halt. Sterner methods may be required, ME

  36. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    You may be right Merrelyn, but it’s worth noting that this is a learning curve for the USA. It is finding that it cannot commandeer global co-operation to serve its preferences – no treaty will get near a working consensus without it very clearly expressing the principle of equity – (as was written into the UNFCCC principles after some nifty legwork by GCI at Geneva).

    Moreover Superstorm Sandy was just the first of the swallows with the Jetstream going to pot. While Munich Re reports that extreme impacts are rising faster in America than anywhere else on the planet, Washington also finds that it is not more but less well able than China to bear the economic costs and damages – and both of these points are contrary to the conventional expectations when Cheyney launched the policy of a Brinkmanship of Inaction. In short the US is learning of its increasing dependence on the rest of the world’s commitment to ending climate destabilization, which ain’t going to happen without it acceding to an equitable and efficient treaty.

    Another outcome of these changes is that it is increasingly obvious to major players within the US that from here on America’s negotiating hand is weakening, meaning that the bipartisan policy is facing a critical loss of credibility at home as it looks ever more like a liability in terms of crucial international relations.

    From this perspective, GCI’s motto of ‘Climate Justice without Vengeance’ seems highly apt. Any external punitive measures could do more to halt the learning curve than to impose terms – at best a notable lack of US participation in dynamic initiatives such as the forthcoming inter-regional carbon price, etc, alongside the ongoing decline of US influence over resources and markets worldwide will, at some point, get the message through:
    – Climate Destabilization, in putting organized society itself at hazard, has paramount policy priority over fading dreams of reasserting the declining US imperial hegemony.



  37. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Your review above provides more hope than I was able to rustle up on the day Lewis and I sincerely hope you are right. The outcome now appears to hinge on whether the USA in the light of the changing circumstances behaves rationally or not, ME

  38. Joe Romm says:

    Well, yes, but we can’t change what’s going to happen for the next 20 or 30 years.

  39. wblakesx says:

    The USA us as whacky a place as most, just another crazy country, usaers get more pr than reality.

  40. Jackson Barnett says:

    Kudos, Sir… Kudos.

  41. HERSHEY JULIEN says:

    If the World Bank is concerned about global warming and all its disastrous consequences, it should invest in development of electrical generating plants using energy from liquid fluoride thorium reactors: (LFTR–A.K.A. molten salt reactors. This is the best energy source in view to replace coal-fired plants and at the same time produce an abundant supply of inexpensive electricity to power factories, heat commercial buildings and homes, and to drive trains and automobiles. Flibe Energy Inc. is developing LFTR and could put to good use a loan from the World Bank.

  42. RockyRacoon says:

    How right you are accumulation and concentration the alpha and the omega of capitalist production. Attenuated by the rate of profit to fall as the ratio of dead mechanical) to living labour rises. This is what bourgeois economists just don’t get. Political Economies are Social Relations-owner/sellor of labour power. Profits are realized after exchange in the market but they are generated at the point of production when living labour sells it’s labour power for less than it is able to produce. As long as capitalism measures value according to living labour time expended and this shrinks in relation to technology the profit pie will shrink hence the intense drive to lower wages on a global scale. Austerity is not about deficits it is about privatization, destruction of organized labour and lowering wages. Austerity backed up by the state is the means to these ends. Along with Imperialist Plunder and WAR as the crisis deepens. Socialism or Barbarism those are our choices. Marxian Socialism: a scientifically planned rational economy democratically administered by the direct producers. A General Strike to achieve these ends would be the first order of the day I would think. We need only be as radical as reality and given the dire straights that we are all in I would say a General Strike and taking over the main conduits of the economy is the least we can do.

  43. RockyRacoon says:

    As soon as I read by 2100, you lose me and everyone else and I give a care about these things. I think by 20 20 or 30 is going to be bad enough and unless we start talking in 10 or 20 years time a majority of people have to many other immeadiate existential threats to deal with. Getting shot by police for being black, not having a job, not having a home, not having any tangible way to get either of these things….no hope. Hell it’s hurricaine Sandy everyday for alot of folks. And that ain’t no bull.

  44. Stephanie Liaci says:

    I STRONGLY disagree with you Lewis.

    If the World Bank or anyone wants to bring lights to places around the world, they can go ahead and BUILD SOLAR AND WIND projects.

    And too bad if this “takes longer”.

    A whole lot of this “modernize the world” crap is code for “consumerize the world”.

    It is hideous to be held hostage to a power company, far worse than being in the dark, especially if you and your people have been doing it forever. The coal plant isn’t interested in helping people. They are interested in building a lifelong attatchment of these people to THEIR GRID. They are the crack dealers of the business world.

    If the WORLD BANK wished to leave evil alone, then they would invest in putting solar setups in cities and towns and then giving them over to the people. And not expect a return on their investment. The return is doing good in the world.

    Or they could focus on clean water, or providing medicine for people suffering from AIDS in Africa.

    And as a New Jersey resident I will say: yes, Lewis, people couldn’t handle being without their lovely toys. Sparing those dependant on power for medical machinery, this exhibits the profound weakness of our nation fostered by a dependancy on a product we have no way of providing for ourselves. We had folks going to shelters in my area for no reason other than they had no lights at night, and needed to wear warmer clothes in their houses. I think the folks in the third world, as we so ridiculously call it, would have done a lot better. I’m prepared to be excoriated for calling folks weak, but it’s the plain truth. We are dependant on a system that WANTS us dependant. They’ve made us into their lifelong consumers! Everyone in the nation! Everyone in the modern world! It is REPULSIVE.

  45. Stephanie Liaci says:

    It sure didn’t feel like a future problem here on the easy coast at the end of last month!

    Nor, I think, to those folks in the midwest whose crops are failing (even if they are by majority too blinded by the red sea of stupid to understand what’s happening.)

  46. Stephanie Liaci says:

    *east coast

  47. Stephanie Liaci says:

    How do you boil a live frog? Well, you can’t throw him into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out.

    So you put him in a pot of nice cool water, and turn the heat on medium-low. And pretty soon he’s dead.

    Sad to know humans have no more sense than the frog. Probably less.

  48. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Stephanie – your response is clearly heartfelt and I appreciate that. Much of your perception of this society also rings true to me. Replusive is the word for what passes for global civilization – when the modern slave trade in the form of the addictive drug industries is just the tip of the iceberg of a commercial culture that aims, as you say, to maximize peoples’ dependency on the corporations at the expense of their freedom of mind and of way of life.

    The prevarication between the superpowers over taking significant action on climate – with Obama now even trying to deny the need of a treaty, is to my mind a long step beyond repulsive. Without a sea-change in the urgency and in the strategy of mitigation we are committed to unprecedented famines from timelagged warming hitting agriculture, particularly subsistence farming in Africa, leaving tens of millions to die slowly and horribly of hunger and disease.

    As I understand it, that vital sea-change is about ending the ‘Brinkmanship of Inaction’ that the superpowers indulge as a key focus of their rivalry for global economic dominance.

    As the dominant nation after WW2, the US helped establish the World Bank as one of the UN’s main institutions, and so it could support proposals in the bank’s governing council of nations to end the funding of fossil energy projects. But the staff of the bank from CEO down have no such broad freedom of action – they function under the original mandate unless otherwise instructed.

    As a means of applying more ecomomic pressure on developing nations the US might try introducing such a measure, but it would by profoundly offensive to them – and many are already steadily shifting their economic alliegance over to China. US conduct on its own emissions would be given widespread publicity, and it makes a very discreditable track record. Its ‘historic’ cumulative CO2 output is about 27% of the global total from 4.4% of global population, and while that volume is officially acknowledged, any and all liability is brazenly denied. There’s also the backsliding over current-emissions cuts, with a pathetic ‘pledge’ of 3.67% cut by 2020 off the agreed UN 1990 baseline (hyped by the White House as 17% by 2020 off Bush’s unilateral 2005 baseline) which is substantially worse than the 5% cut by 2012 off 1990 that America formally committed to at Kyoto.

    From this perspective Obama might be rash enough to try to force through the changes you suggest against other nations’ opposition, but I doubt it would be seen as worthwhile.

    What is needed of course is US recognition that it is utterly dependent on the rest of the world committing to an equitable and efficient climate treaty that resolves global sustainable energy deployment – there is simply no prospect of it bullying its way to global compliance with the pace and scale of industrial change that is now essential. With the decline of arctic sea ice destabilizing the Jetstream and contributing to a faster rise of extreme weathers in the US than anywhere else on the planet, the impacts are only going to get worse until Washington realizes it’s time to come to the table.

    Finally, your assertion that Americans have become ‘weak’ makes sense to me, so no excoriation from here. But that self-indulgence is only conditioning, and coming circumstances are predictably going to wash it away. That said, a large part of the inevitable learning curve is about understanding that, say, Staten Island has no more rights to coal-fired power than the people of Bangladesh – less if one compares the two communities radical differences in both wealth and carbon debts.

    Anyone intending to explain otherwise to the people of Bangladesh might do well to wear running shoes – and no doubt explaining the pressing reality of carbon debt to Staten Islanders could also require some careful diplomacy . . .



  49. “The Clime of Civilization”

    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Civilization’s clime
    Was good most all the time
    But now the greenhouse gas
    Portends that it will pass.