Against carbon rationing

In: Uncategorized

21 Oct 2006

Mark Lynas has a cover story in the New Statesman on the need for carbon rationing which at least has the virtue of logical consistency. Rather than use euphemisms such as “mitigation”, as many environmentalists do, he is explicit in his demand for austerity. Like George Monbiot and Joss Garman – between them the three run the turnuptheheat website – he argues that the need for austerity is given by the science of climate change:

“Defeating global warming must be our priority today, or we will lose this war, and with it our very existence as a civilisation.

“At an international level, some variant of rationing is nothing less than a mathematical inevitability.”

What this misses, among other things, is that there are alternatives to rationing. For example, nuclear power and hydroelectric power do not emit greenhouse gases. Carbon sequestration can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. We can adapt to the effects of climate change by such measures as building modern flood defences. Over the long-term there are also other possibilities such as geoengineering (weather modification) and nuclear fusion as a source of energy.

In any case it should not be taken as given that the worst case scenario in relation to climate change put forward by Lynas is correct. In addition, it needs to be remembered that rationing would literally leave billions of people mired in poverty.

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