• DJ

    The interview from which this comes is interesting, but not big on specifics. Monbiot does suggest that we need to radically change our lifestyle– cutting carbon emmissions by 100% or 115% immediately. Yes, that’s right, we need to not only cease producing CO2 and methane, we need to begin absorbing some extra.

    Think about what that means: the only energy available would be from renewable resources. All coal, gas, and oil plants would go offline. That means an immediate 91% cut in electricity availability. ALL motor vehicles cease to run, except those powered by hydrogen, or by electricity and charged with that limited supply of renewable energy. Commercial agriculture as we know it ceases. Heating of homes in the winter is done by solar or not at all. In short, we retreat to a lifestyle somewhat resembling the stone age, but with internet.

    And Monbiot suggests that the alternative may be worse– that 60% of the people in the world may drown or need to relocate inland. I hope to God he’s wrong, because I don’t see a lot of people lining up for the solution he recommends.

    He isn’t at all clear what he means by “small is no longer beautiful (indeed, he spends only a couple of sentences on it). Does he mean in terms of action? In terms of planning? In terms of economics? He just doesn’t say. I suspect he is suggesting some form of world govenrment to empower and enforce the necessary changes. Otherwise they aren;t going to happen. (And even then, they’ll only happen under the threat of force. But I doubt he means that small lifestyles are no longer beautiful. One way or another, our lifestyles will be getting much smaller than we ever dreamed possible.

    My own belief is that we will be left with two choices: city living, where the economics of scale will make zero-emission living more economical, and country living where self-reliance can minimize the need for outside inputs. The suburbs as we know them are likely to become ghost towns.

  • I jut started reading Jim Kunstler’s The Long Emergency which is about peak oil, something which somewhat parallels global warming.

    He makes the fascinating point that globalization is predicated upon cheap, plentiful oil. Take that away and globalization collapses.

    Review coming.

  • DJ

    Yes and no. It takes far less energy to transport goods by ship than by truck. (417 BTUs/ton-mile vs. 3,400 BTUs/ton-mile– see this link). Thus for less energy it takes to truck food to Boston from California, you could bring it by ship from virtually anywhere on the globe by ship. The solution, obviously, is to eat locally, though I doubt you’ve seen vast fields of broccoli growing up there in New England.

    But back to Monbiot’s ramifications: It seems that we’re all in favor of reducing greenhouse gases, except when it means changing how we live!

    Here’s an interesting question: what would it take for you (or anyone in America) to achieve zero CO2 emmissions?

  • But shipping still requires oil and globalization (make th product in south Asia then ship it to the US) wouldn’t be nearly as profitable if the price of oil spiked.

  • DJ

    The sad thing is, the more expensive oil gets, the greater the advantage an ocean-shipped product has over trucked– meaning that Asia still has an advantage over long distance U.S. Yes, the cost of transportation would go up, but since trucking uses more fuel per ton, it would still be at a relative disadvantage. If oil seriously spikes, we may find that our choices are to make do with local substitutes for products we’ve taken for granted throughout our lifetime (like amaranth instead of wheat and home-made nails), or cheap Chinese-made products.

    Unless of course we used rail, which is even more efficient than ship (344 BTUs/ton-mile). But how retro is that?

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