World Bank President On Climate Crisis: ‘If There Is No Action Soon, The Future Will Become Bleak’

Jim Yong Kim Promises To Factor In Global Warming “With Every Investment We Make And Every Action We Take.”

You may recall the shocking World Bank Climate Report from November that concluded: “A 4°C [7°F] world can, and must, be avoided” to avert “devastating” impacts.

What impacts? The must-read report 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.”

Now World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has a strong WashPost op-ed that warns “we need to get serious fast” to avoid the looming “climate catastrophe.” He explains:

The signs of global warming are becoming more obvious and more frequent. A glut of extreme weather conditions is appearing globally. And the average temperature in the United States last year was the highest ever recorded….

If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a reportin November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.

A world that warm means seas would rise 1.5 to 3 feet, putting at risk hundreds of millions of city dwellers globally. It would mean that storms once dubbed “once in a century” would become common, perhaps occurring every year. And it would mean that much of the United States, from Los Angeles to Kansas to the nation’s capital, would feel like an unbearable oven in the summer.

What does the physician and anthropologist recommend we do?

The world’s top priority must be to get finance flowing and get prices right on all aspects of energy costs to support low-carbon growth. Achieving a predictable price on carbon that accurately reflects real environmental costs is key to delivering emission reductions at scale. Correct energy pricing can also provide incentives for investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy technologies.

A second immediate step is to end harmful fuel subsidies globally, which could lead to a 5 percent fall in emissions by 2020. Countries spend more than $500 billion annually in fossil-fuel subsidies and an additional $500 billion in other subsidies, often related to agriculture and water, that are, ultimately, environmentally harmful. That trillion dollars could be put to better use for the jobs of the future, social safety nets or vaccines.

Kim certainly talks to the talk when it comes to the implications of the climate crisis for the Bank itself:

Just as the Bretton Woods institutions were created to prevent a third world war, the world needs a bold global approach to help avoid the climate catastrophe it faces today. The World Bank Group is ready to work with others to meet this challenge. With every investment we make and every action we take, we should have in mind the threat of an even warmer world and the opportunity of inclusive green growth.

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.

Even after the report was released, many questions were raised about whether the Bank would walk the walk:

On the basis of the report and this new op-ed, the bank must stop funding 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 findings of the Bank 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].

And 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).”

Kim’s ending is simple but blunt:

After the hottest year on record in the United States, a year in which Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars in damagerecord droughts scorched farmland in the Midwest and our organization reported that the planet could become more than 7 degrees warmer, what are we waiting for? We need to get serious fast. The planet, our home, can’t wait.

70 Responses to World Bank President On Climate Crisis: ‘If There Is No Action Soon, The Future Will Become Bleak’

  1. Yes!

    “They always say that time changes things but you actually have to change them yourself.”

    – Andy Warhol

  2. The rule of holes: When you at last discover you’ve dug too deep, Step One is to stop digging.

    How about an international moratorium on all new fossil fuel plant construction? Even just for 180 days to convene at Bretton-Woods-type international meeting?

  3. Now we have a number of big, very conservative institutions (IEA. PwC, WB) banging the drum for urgent action on climate. So why isn’t it happening at scale and speed?

  4. fj says:

    kim and bloomberg spoke on the future of transportation in washington last week.

    the scale of the change . . .

  5. fj says:

    Building the world’s first carbon zero transit system in nyc would have terrific impact.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    You have to like Kim, but how come he didn’t cancel the giant coal plant fundings in India and South Africa?

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    It’s a myth that conservative ideology has anything to do with it. Those who block clean energy value money above all, and don’t care about the consequences. That is the sickness that we have to defeat.

  8. John McCormick says:

    Ask the big green (aka Sesame Street gang). They have been beating that drum for 40 years. Maybe they need a drumstick and not a #2 pencil.

  9. Paul Klinkman says:

    I’m sitting on a good transit design containing about 100 separate innovations. No one in H—, er, on planet Eaarth is interested in deploying the transit system or any of its subsystems. Don’t deploy, don’t deploy, don’t deploy, Research because research brings in funding but don’t develop, don’t deploy, don’t deploy, don’t deploy.

  10. Ken Barrows says:

    Soon? Mr. Kim, give me a number, please.

  11. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Stephen – it’s good to see this question asked. The scale and imminence of the threat, compared with the time needed even for the best case mitigation strategy to take effect, implies that major powers see some overiding priority for inaction on climate.

    In America’s case, the debate on action is itself futile, since it is over whether the Cancun pledge of a mere 3.67% cut by 2020 off the 1990 UNFCCC baseline will be honoured. The fact that most progressive media hype this pledge as 17% off Bush’s unilateral 2005 baseline indicates a sad poverty of ambition to my mind.

    The standard excuses for four years inaction under a democrat president are no longer plausible. “Election-funding-corruption” doesn’t apply to a second term president and the urgency should anyway have the establishment demanding action; being “too busy” is a matter of policy priority; and “too much opposition” is implausible with 80% polling for action – as well as with the sudden prioretizing of gun control above climate despite 50% implacable opposition.

    So what priorities are there that can divert the WH from addressing the existential climate threat, and that prevent the vast majority of US corporations (who are all in the climate firing line and who mostly lack any inherent loyalty to FFs) from demanding action and funding publicity and a media focus on slamming the circus of denial ?

    It was Cheyney & Bush who ended constructive US participation in UN negotiations and launched the unstated policy of a ‘brinkmanship of inaction’ with China, and Obama has not replaced that policy.

    Logically the one paramount bipartisan priority driving the persistent inaction is thus China’s rise threatening US global economic dominance – which would be ended if climate impacts are allowed to advance to the point of crop failures and food shortages causing civil unrest to destabilize China’s government.

    According to a recent UK report that addresses the near-term prospects of such shortages : “Food Security: Near future projections of the impact of drought in Asia” (available online at ) China is now liable to face such crop failures within ten to fifteen years. With the ongoing destabilization of the Jetstream, this may be a rather conservative estimate.

    If you can see any other US priority of a magnitude to overide action on the climate threat I wish you’d post it, as it seems to me that until there is clear understanding of what the obstruction is and where it is vulnerable, worldwide efforts to resolve it will remain simply ineffective.



  12. fj says:

    That is because it is a huge monopoly but there is no serious way to address climate change without mass migration to carbon zero mobility.

  13. fj says:

    Using heavy machinery to move people around makes absolutely no sense.

  14. The US could have crop failures that are just as destabilizing as any might be in China. And soon, if the Arctic ice cap goes and the jet stream comes unhinged.

    Think of the jet stream’s behavior in March 2012, when nighttime temps in northern states broke all-time record highs for the entire month. Or Hurricane Sandy, abruptly deflected dead west by a rogue lobe. Now imagine this phenomenon happening during the height of the growing season–July, August, ans September rains shifting all over the place; continental-scale droughts and floods just when steady,predictable rain is most needed. Throw in some crazy new paths for hurricanes, some derechos, and a 40% crop failure a la Russian wheat in 2010 seems like the low end.

    Plus, there’d be instability in electric generation brought on by this errant weather. The economy would take a huge hit.

    Now throw in the 300 million guns in this country. It’s a bad recipe.

    The only real hope is some quickly coalescing realization among key nations that this is in fact the likely scenario and must be avoided, the same way the same major powers agree not to nuke one another, because there can be no winners. Hoping that climate change hurts China first and worse is a very poorly thought-out strategy.

    I can’t really imagine anyone in our government can persuade enough of his/her fellows that this is a seriously considered approach. It’s some kind of Dr. Strangelove scenario.

  15. John McCormick says:

    Lewis, direct your question to the big green. Haven’t we been paying their freight for 4 decades with little else to show.

    When have you, Lewis, ever seen a big green comment on this blog….assuring us they are in tune with our panic and willing to fly out of their nest.

    I am on a tirade with the big green and their insular, (for contributors only), approach to what is the likely end of civilization. Or, did I hyper-ventilate. We are such kind folks.

    Have you ever wondered what is the big green passion level and what do they think of us thinkers here on CP.

    Have you ever heard a national green leader use the three words “the sixth extinction”? No.

    None of us have. They live in a world of marketing their product.

    It is fast approaching a time to call them out and demand an accounting of where all of our contributions have been spent to assure our children a possible chance to survive.

    Why spend another dime to protect coatal habitats that are “programmed” to be submerge by SLR in the next 10-20 years?

    We live with hope even with all that we know and understand.

    Find an email for the big green leaders and ask your question.

  16. John McCormick says:

    Mike Roddy, we are a capitve audience of CP and the time has come to open the tent.

    We have a right, as contributors, to demand results for our many millions of dollars of contributions to the big green. They are insular, conservative and refuse to say the words ‘approaching our extinction’.

    Are they bought in, locked in or shut in by the funders? All of the above, I believe. High salaries, overhead and travel budgets. Could change, if they wake up to the responsibilities we have invested in them.

    Damn, time to call them out by name and affiliation.

    If the big green cannot give us, very quickly, a road map to our and our children’s survival then it is time to find a new wave. And, I despair what is the option.

    Waiting for that wave.

  17. Mike Roddy says:

    You’re right, John, and the big green NGO’s are not going to change from within. Some, like EDF and NRDC, are hopeless, but pressure on the Sierra Club and RAN could bring them back to their roots. Both organizations are headquartered in San Francisco, where I am visiting this week. If we can’t change them here, it’s an impossible task, and we will need new, more nimble organizations to replace them.

  18. Leif says:

    Climatic Disruption is indeed the classic “Mutually Assured Destruction” of Earth’s life support systems.

    Jim Yong Kim Promises To Factor In Global Warming “With Every Investment We Make And Every Action We Take.” So should we all.

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Waiting, waiting…for the World Bank’s next Action, ME

  20. Mike, many “conservatives” tend to value money above everything except their personal relationships, don’t you agree? Economic freedom is political freedom, the whole Citizens United, unlimited PAC money POV.

    It seems to me that there’s a large ideological overlap between “conservatives” and the unfettered ability to make money at the expense of unseen others.

  21. David Smith says:

    “With every investment we make and every action we take, we should have in mind the threat of an even warmer world and the opportunity of inclusive green growth”

    “Having in mind” is a very weak statement that does not connect to action.

    As long as action is measured as a percent of positive change in the right direction we will are doomed to failure. When will we start measuring our actions against the goal we all recognize and know must be achieved – Zero GHG emissions.

    If Mr. Kim indicated that the world bank would no longer invest in projects that generated green house gases (zero emissions), that would be something. That would be progress.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I like Warhol’s other observation that, ‘Art is what you can get away with’, which seems to indicate self-awareness at least. Even better, substitute ‘Life’ for ‘Art’.

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Conservative’ is a mendacious euphemism for the pathologically greedy and psychologically malignant who capitalism places in charge of societies because of their ability to control affairs through their money power.

  24. Aussie John says:

    Rampant “free market” capitalism is at the heart of the problem of climate inaction.
    Corporate entities insist on ‘business as usual’ to keep the profits rolling in, regardless of future consequences. The real costs of future climate related disasters will be socialised through ‘government finances’, providing no relative financial disadvantage imposed on carbon polluting industries that are causing the problem, so there is no incentive for them to change course.
    Until the CO2 emissions of their product appear as a liability on corporate balance sheets, the great and clever minds of commerce will not address the reduction of CO2 pollution.
    Nature, on the other hand will inexorably respond as predicted by science, ensuring no-one will win if we continue on our present course.
    Living costs must rise; stability through insurance will be prohibitive for many.
    The fossil fuel industry must come out of denial and accept that they will never be able to fully exploit their reserves of oil and gas.
    The canny and clever ones who move first (before the share market prices the true value of untapped reserves are factored into corporate worth), will likely ensure their dominance of market share in the renewable energy industry, but those who change over late will be left holding relatively worthless assets.
    Perhaps the catalyst for corporate change will be shareholder uncertainty, generated by natural disasters and catastrophes’ that are exacerbated by climate change.
    Propaganda can misrepresent and confuse the public understanding of the science, but a continuance of nature’s onslaught speaks loudly and indelibly for itself.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s the beauty of these Trojans, like Kim and Obama. They look good, they mouth the platitudes, they stroke the egos and then they do their Masters’ bidding, and the poor ‘Hope Fiends’ wonder, yet again, just what in blazes is going on?

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Absolutely. Capitalism is innately anti-human and anti-life, a neoplastic system that, like cancer, must grow and grow (if only to repay debt and feed the parasite elite’s lust for a ten percent return on capital per annum) until till it inevitably kills its host, humanity, which is the end-stage that we have reached. It turns everything, human labour and effort, natural resources and the very fabric of the biosphere, into the dead stuff of capital, then, rather than using that wealth to raise humanity up and out of poverty and want, it accumulates it in ever greater amounts in as few hands as possible. Talk of ‘reforming’ capitalism is akin to speaking of ‘user-friendly’ cancer.

  27. Noel Kendall says:

    Anyone who wants to take action today can do so, easily. I am offsetting carbon emissions from drivers by living a 100% bicycle lifestyle. I’m encouraged by the support I have received as I make it possible to raise the price of carbon by voluntarily donations. The proceeds are used to provide transportation fuel (i.e. food), maintain my bike, and provide personal climate control (i.e. clothing). Anyone aching for action to be taken today can join me by offsetting their carbon.

  28. John McCormick says:

    Time for a big green executive to come to a House Science Committee hearing and demand equal time or, at least, stage a press conference denouncing the flat earth republicans?

  29. Omega Centauri says:

    At least on a small scale we can walk the walk. Made my first SolarMosaic investment this week. But the key here is to get the WB to stop making the problem worse, i.e. financing big coal.

  30. Paul Klinkman says:

    My system isn’t particularly heavy. I replace an elevated set of railroad tracks with a couple of cables running above street level.

    I like bicycles, but bikes aren’t particularly accessible for frail or blind people. Nor do bikes move freight pallets. The goal is to make the streets safe for bicycles.

  31. Artful Dodger says:

    Uh, no. Other zero-carbon public transportation systems exist in major cities.

    There’s even one in the heart of darkness:

  32. Artful Dodger says:

    Wind turbines started delivering clean wind power on August 31, 2001 for Calgary’s Light Rail Transit (LRT), the major commuter system in the city.

  33. Artful Dodger says:

    “before the switch to wind power, the C-Train’s energy supply accounted for about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and other forms of air pollution every year, less than 1/10 of the pollution that would have resulted if all C-Train passengers had driven in their own cars. Under the Ride the Wind program, these emissions have been reduced to practically zero.”

  34. Artful Dodger says:

    Abraham Lincoln did the same, until he decided who he was going to be. He once offered to let the South keep their slaves until 1900 in order to preserve the Union.

    Finally, he had to decide. And it was the action at Harper’s Ferry and the writing of Harriet Beecher Stowe that turned him into the Lincoln we read about.

    So all I’m saying MM, is *KEEP WRITING* Brother! 8D

  35. fj says:

    making the streets mainly from cars is the first step in breaking the monopoly.

  36. fj says:

    simple mechanical collision avoidance has existed for years in the form of rails, and likely the cables you mention; and most recently computers to create driverless cars.

  37. fj says:

    wheelchairs have existed for many years to move the severely disabled and as have all the basic technologied required to build distributed on demand systems for everyone.

  38. fj says:

    Sorry for all the typos.

    To put it quite succinctly, in this fossil fuel civilization, the world’s richest and largest industries — valued in many trillions of dollars in annual subsidies, revenues, and infrastructure — feed in the trough of transportation systems based on cars while the basic technology has existed for many years capable of providing carbon free transit and mobility solutions accessible to everyone at minimal human and environmental costs.

  39. fj says:

    And, an even more succinct action statement is that we have to move from a fossil fuel civilization to a carbon free civilization.

    The overriding system is civilization where people live and work together and stuff like this is done all the time.

    In a major bank for example, it often becomes necessary to move from one huge books-of-the-bank data processing system to another. Yes, this is a major effort and can even encompass trillions of dollars in equities, etc, but this happens with the intent that the bank will function better than ever . . .

    The migration in our case is that civilization must learn to migrate from a dependency on fossil fuels to one that more directly relies on natural systems and human capital.

  40. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Change – I’d agree that the US is getting increasingly hammered by extreme events – Munich Re data shows them have been rising much faster than in any comparable area. But back in 2000 when Cheyney imposed the policy of inaction, the received wisdom was that developing nations, such as China, would be hit much harder than developed nations like the US, and that the wealthy US would be far better able to afford the damages and rebuilding costs and food price rises. Those grossly flawed assumptions of relative advantage are two of the policy’s major weaknesses – it is proving economically unsustainable and thus actually counterproductive to its objective of securing US global economic dominance.

    Cheyney was a cold war warrior – when he became Bush senior’s defense secretary he’d seen four decades of the effort to deny the USSR’s bid for global dominance by means of mounting the nuclear arms race with its vast costs, myriad proxy-wars and existential risks – all of which were seen as fully justified to maintain US dominance.

    Given his background and the visible economic rise of China by 2000, it is notable that no other policy was launched to deflect China’s bid for dominance than the Brinkmanship of Inaction – though we can be certain that the maintenance of US dominance remained Washington’s paramount priority.

    Your remark that the policy has a Stranglovian ring to it is strangely accurate – Peter Seller’s portrayal of Dr Strangelove was a composite of caricatures of two people – Werner Von Braun (a captured Nazi rocket scientist who led the US ICBM program) and one Edward Teller (aka “father of the H-bomb”, a fervent anti-communist scientist). When the USSR collapsed Teller’s stock in Washington was sky high – and he and Cheyney would certainly have known each other. In ’95 he wrote a seminal paper on sulphate aerosol geo-engineering, arguing that, should it become necessary, an ‘off-switch’ for global warming was easily available. This was critical to the launch of the policy of a Brinkmanship of Inaction against communist China in providing the necessary exit-strategy, without which the policy could not have been adopted.

    Thus Strangelovian is about right. The fact that the policy is also deeply incompetent, as well as genocidally immoral, means that it is increasingly vulnerable to being exposed, condemned and overturned.



  41. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    John, re the pseudo-Green enviro-angst corporations (aka ENGOs ?):
    “Haven’t we been paying their freight for 4 decades with little else to show.”
    I’d say bugger-all to show for it would be nearer the mark.

    About fifteen years ago I went to a public meeting where a panel with reps of FOE, WFN & Greenpeace talked up their tremendous enviro-protection performances. During questions I stood up and very politely pointed out that as far as I cold see we were worse off by an order of magnitude than we’d been 25 years earlier.

    This got several expressions of agreement from the audience, and the panel were plainly bloody furious and blustered a pathetic defence.

    You may have seen reports that here in the UK a top-rank police consortium spent about £20m between 2000 and 2010 infiltrating numerous long-term agents into the activist wing of the climate campaign – even to the extent of providing the transport for some actions.

    If funds on that scale are spent on pretty ineffective small campaign groups, then logically how much is it worth to the UK establishment to fund agents of influence on the policies of the major ENGOs, with their millions of middle class subscribers ? And how much in the US ?

    We should not expect the establishment to play nice.



  42. Paul Magnus says:

    “The future will become bleaker”…. Its already bleak.

  43. fj says:

    Kind of under the impression that under Stalin and Mao tens of millions died and suffered needlessly . . .

    and, well then there was Genghis Khan . . .

    As Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking Fast and Slow”) describes the vast array of beliefs in causality as not being terribly rational; as there’s a huge amount of chaos and luck involved in how reality unfolds.

    In any case, the root of our problem is indeed manmade in systems of technologies that no longer serve us well; and the simple answer is that we must move on.

  44. fj says:

    Since there seems to be considerable consensus that we are heading into a period of climate chaos and perhaps a period of strong social cohesion — not assured — to combat and survive the chaos and necessarily NOT so bad a future after all.

    If you truly grasp the scale of this thing; who knows? If we’re able to beat this thing, we’ll be ready for the stars?

  45. fj says:

    If you understand the scale of this thing the action necessary has to be on the scale ultimately of billions of people, so it has to be political, uplifting, transcendent . . .

  46. Superman1 says:

    Neither the medical profession nor the climate profession focus on addressing ’causes’; rather they address ‘symptoms’, and express amazement why the problem never gets solved. The ’cause’ of the climate change problem is the addiction of the energy consumer to an energy intensive way of life enabled by cheap fossil fuels. There are many who exploit this addiction, like the deniers and the fossil energy organizations, but they are not the central cause. The politicians do nothing because they do not want to offend their constituency, the prolific energy consumer. Until this central cause is addressed, there will be zero progress, as we have been observing for forty years.

  47. Superman1 says:

    I agree with your characterization of conservatives, but they are not the central problem; see my comment immediately above.

  48. Superman1 says:

    John, You’re looking for an exogenous solution to a problem that requires an endogenous solution. Suppose 98% of the electorate were alcoholics, and they faced extinction in a few decades if they continued their profligate ways. Would you expect a solution from government; anyone who proposed a clampdown would be voted out of office the next day? Would you blame the alcohol producers and distributors? You probably would, but they are not the central cause. We are the problem, and until we give up our profligate energy consuming ways voluntarily or involuntarily, no action will take place. The cause is quite simple, but we look for complex solutions externally. They haven’t worked and never will work, because they don’t address the central cause.

  49. Superman1 says:

    You state: “If we’re able to beat this thing”. This is akin to the language used in the war on cancer, and other such ‘wars’. That’s why cancer is still a scourge, and it’s the same reason climate change is still a scourge. Much cancer (not all; there are geneitic components) comes from toxic exposures and a toxic lifestyle (junk food, junk drink, junk fats, etc). These are personal choices, and much cancer could be eliminated by living a stricter lifestyle. We choose not to do this. Same as climate change. There’s no war here; we like the luxurious lifestyle that high energy use enabled by cheap fossil fuels brings. Stop blaming the energy companies, the government, the World Bank, the deniers. They may be exploiters of our addictions, but the central cause is our addiction, not their exploitation.

  50. fj says:

    yes, a definite maybe, or it may have just been a way that things turned out and we will all flip to doing things a better way.

  51. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Neither Stalin nor Mao were communists as conceptualized by Marx. They, together with Genghis Khan, employed the same first design principle of top down authority as capitalism has adopted, with the same results. This principle needs changing urgently, ME

  52. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I now realize that the world works on the Laws of Superman and all medical researchers, social scientists and specialist health professionals can enjoy early retirement, ME

  53. Merrelyn Emery says:

    All corporations are structured on the first design principle, top down responsibility, and echo that dominant culture, regardless of purpose, ME

  54. I’m sorry to say that the climate change issue may lead down the same path for us as slavery did. In fact, I think that fear is THE big driver of inaction from those who know what’s going on, like Mr. Obama. Too many guns, too much romance about “liberty” and individualism.

    You can see the visceral hate that Obamacare provoked. We got a whole new political party in reaction. Obamacare was simply putting healthcare closer to a public utility model. Imagine the reaction of the reactionaries once (or rather, if) we start making the changes that would actually start to bend the CO2 accumulation curve.

    It may well rhyme with 1861. I hope the public consensus develops strongly enough soon enough to avoid that.

  55. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mao was an enthusiast for ’empowering the people’. To do what he thought best, of course, but he was a firm believer in mass action. All good Marxists yearn for the state to ‘wither away’.

  56. fj says:

    Jim Yong Kim’s early history was chronicled in Tracy Kidder’s best-selling “Mountains Beyond Mountains” about Dr. Paul Farmer who started Partners In Health . . .

    It is terribly encouraging seeing Kim here attempting to do his best righting a long history of wrongs. . .

  57. fj says:

    Even if wind or other clean energy was not used to build and maintain the equipment and infrastructure it’s still great to learn of a system that gets its energy from wind.

    One fantasy is a really light elevated rail and vehicle system that automatically adjusts to wind direction allowing featherweight vehicles to sail this country’s Great Plains and other wide open spaces at terrific speeds.

  58. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yeah, as long as they did what Mao told them to do which is what I was writing about, ME

  59. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Well I’ve seen the rhetoric but not yet the action, ME

  60. AlC says:

    In minimizing the efforts of environmental groups, you are ignoring things like the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which, together with partner organizations, has been responsible for shutting coal plants and preventing others from being opened.

    I recently talked with a frequently-quoted meteorologist who said, summarizing, “We’re (fried)” ( or another f word that he couldn’t say on the air). I hope we can prove him wrong, but time is running out.

    However, we face a balancing act between despair and optimism. Yes, we are stuck with the global warming we have now, or worse. But there are still things we can do to keep it from getting worse.

    Environmental groups also must deal with this balancing act…advocating for as much reduction in GHG emissions as fast as we can get it, without driving people into such despair that they will do nothing.

  61. Carol says:

    AIC—–you say:

    “However, we face a balancing act between despair and optimism.”

    For those who have learned and accepted the facts about human-induced climate change—-is there anyone who is genuinely optimistic?

    For me it feels more like a balancing act between despair and carrying on each day as my Dad did when he was dying of cancer.

    I still picture him trying to exercise (lifting 3 pound barbells). He wanted to keep cooking for my Mom and be able to take care of his dog and thought “weight lifting” would help.

    Days before hospice care stepped in, he was still taking vitamins.

    He was not in despair nor did he exhibit signs of optimism. It was simply a determination on his part to keep going in spite of the reality of the cancer that had spread throughout his body.

  62. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m rather disappointed that my comment re the truth about Mao has gone. As long as the propaganda is peddled that Mao was an unregenerate monster who did no good, and that the current Chinese government is somehow illegitimate, tainted by Mao, then we are heading, not for needed global co-operation, but a gigantic and destructive confrontation and war. Who wants that?

  63. fj says:

    As described by Kim a major portion of World Bank funding goes to transportation; which is a major cause of climate change.

    Shaping the Future of Urban Transportation, with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim – Live Webcast

    Of course, the ramp up to effective action levels is still nowhere to be found which would likely entail research, development and rapid deployment of large scale net zero transit systems providing a critical path to an equally rapid transition to a carbon free civilization.

  64. fj says:

    NYC Rapid Repairs announced a couple of weeks ago that it got 10,000 people back in their homes. This is action being put in place to rapidly act on extreme events.

    It was far from perfect. It could have included hazard mitigation so that when the next storm came the damage would not have been as great.

    And, it could have included energy retrofits to convert these building to carbon zero.

    But, it was a start and if the City continuously improves the process these things will be included also.

    Although it will become apparent it will likely be much better to convert many of these areas to marshlands to serve as buffers to the increasingly frequent storms.

    The resolve has to be established to put the huge resources in place to start on the transition from a fossil fuel economy while we will continue to be battered by extreme events for decades to come.

  65. Guest says:

    “The World Bank should support poor countries that need coal-powered energy in spite of its contribution to climate change, its president has said.

    “My first priority is for countries to have the energy they need to lift their own people out of poverty. It’s a tough negotiation,” he said.

    “We want to do everything we can to lower the use of coal. But we can’t turn our backs when poor countries need coal,” to lift their economies and provide heat for their populations.”

  66. Mark says:

    “We want to do everything we can to lower the use of coal. But we can’t turn our backs when poor countries need coal,” to lift their economies and provide heat for their populations.”

    This is the crux of the problem, isn’t it? Developed countries have taken advantage of cheap fossil fuels for the past 150 years to amass enormous wealth. Now developing countries want to do the same, but we’re telling them they need to take a different, significantly more expensive (at least in up front costs) and relatively untested path. One option is for developed countries to massively reduce our own emissions so that developing countries can be allowed to see their emissions grow in the near term, while the world still stays under a 2 degree carbon budget in aggregate. But the developed world isn’t going to do that, so instead a poor developing country with very low per capita emissions getting a coal plant becomes the villain. Now there’s a legitimate debate to be had about how poor is poor and whether China should be treated like India or South African should be treated like Mongolia, but I do think that in these quotes above, Jim Yong Kim is getting at the heart of the equity debate that is making ambitious collective effort at the international level so elusive. I’m not sure a blanket rule of no more fossil fuel plants is very helpful until you’re also able to find the spare financial resources that make a cleaner alternative affordable for the poorest.

  67. fj says:

    Poor People First will likely be one of the most important strategies for slowing accelerating climate change.

  68. fj says:

    And by far the best response to the fact that the world’s extreme poor require energy to escape their poverty trap would be for the developed world to provide huge amounts of clean energy to the poor eliminating the need for coal.

  69. fj says:

    What should be quite evident from this is that fossil fuels are actually very expensive when taken over any reasonable time span of ten to twenty years; probably much shorter periods of five years or less.

    We are wasting literally tens of trillions of dollars not making the immediate transition to an eco-friendly and most importantly a people-friendly civilization.

  70. Steve L. says:

    My apologies, Stephen, but I wouldn’t quite call any of these organizations “conservative”……