Whether more folks are embracing the belief that climate change poses a problem or simply an opportunity to make a buck, there are vague factions emerging from the voices of debate.
One is the "technology will save us" group. These strike me as hoping against evidence they won't have to change much of their consumption and living standards because and ingenious "something" will neatly reverse alarming trends. While this faith in applied science and human ingenuity is certainly inspiring, it is also a risky approach.
As indicators accelerate, there could develop in such adherents a tendency to seriously consider some pretty flaky "solutions". I think we're starting to see them emerge.
Scientist Tim Flannery has proposed a radical solution to climate change which may change the colour of the sky.Another choice is to adapt to the new climate - which if you think about it is what we will all do to some degree in the end, I suppose. To accomplish that, however, may mean reversing our thinking on things like cities, farming and cars.
But he says it may be necessary, as the "last barrier to climate collapse."
Professor Flannery says climate change is happening so quickly that mankind may need to pump sulphur into the atmosphere to survive.
Australia's best-known expert on global warming has updated his climate forecast for the world - and it's much worse than he thought just three years ago.
He has called for a radical suite of emergency measures to be put in place.
The gas sulphur could be inserted into the earth's stratosphere to keep out the sun's rays and slow global warming, a process called global dimming.
"It would change the colour of the sky," Prof Flannery told AAP. [More]
To many Americans, ecological nirvana is a bucolic existence surrounded by wilderness. But the Thoreauvian desire for more elbow room has led to sprawl, malls, and cougar attacks. The edge-city upshot is a national cadre of 3.5 million "extreme commuters," who spend more than three hours a day in transit, many of them spewing carbon dioxide between exurb home and city office. Automobile exhaust in the US contributes roughly 1.9 billion tons a year to the global carbon cloud, more than the emissions of India, Japan, or Russia. Even worse are the 40 million lawn mowers used to tame the suburban backcountry: Each spews 11 cars' worth of pollutants per hour. [More]One thing is certain: we are accumulating more data every second, and therefore these positions need to be fluid to accommodate new data and hitherto undiscovered causes. But as I have written our current personal ethic of stubbornness as proof of moral courage and intellectual honesty will complicate this evolution.
The result is a few of us will be somewhat right about the future, many of us will be wrong, and the vast majority will try every excuse to resist joining any camp until the winners are evident. This reluctance to try to participate seems to me to be a serious impediment to any solution, leading me to lean toward the adaptation camp.
Currently, that means preparing for very expensive energy, whether due to supply and demand or regulation. More important for farmers, I think we will shoulder much more of the costs of maintaining our standard of living, as opposed to the rest of the country picking up the tab. I can see our farms being off the grid, for example.
I know - that sounds pretty agrarian to me too. But the movement to rural America for quality of life may have peaked. At some point, the only folks in places like my township could be farmers, for a variety of economic reasons. And when that happens, subsidizing things like landline phones, electricity and paved roads will seem pretty expensive the the other taxpayers.