It was clear as Tom Ackerman gave a quick précis before launching into his talk proper that there was no real question for him about global warming. Though his January Series talk, “Global Warming: Fact or Fiction,” was dominated by a hasty journey through a series of graphs showing the unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide currently increasing the levels of ozone gases trapping heat within our atmosphere, and models clearly suggesting the human role in that CO2 buildup, Tom Ackerman is clearly as convinced as most of the rest of the world: global climate change is a reality, it has been deeply affected by human involvement, and we have already done untold damage to the earth which will be felt for generations.
Ackerman also worked hard to introduce his listeners to the current state of public policy in the US on the issue. He highlighted the inaction of successive administrations, and the need for radical change given the United States’ dominance of the league tables of carbon emissions whether in raw terms or per capita. And he noted that we must be ready to heavily subsidise any alternatives to our current energy sources as they are not yet ready to be financially competitive with fossil fuels.
Listening to the talk I was reminded of Phill’s post this morning, in which he uses the metaphor of an ‘all you can eat’ meal to talk about inequities in a world of limited resources. I’m grateful for opportunities such as A Year Of Living Generously to help set manageable targets for changing lifestyle.
Try as we might, few of us will achieve an overnight turnaround of lifestyle, so I’ve been wondering most of the day how to extend that model. Perhaps there’d be some interest in a version of YOLG more adapted for those in the US? Perhaps those of us in Grand Rapids can do more to support the woefully under-realised public transport we have available? I’m hoping this lecture continues to work as a salient reminder of an all too pressing issue.