Climate: An optimistic article by Al Gore in “Rolling Stone”

Democracy is accepted in theory by more people than ever before as the best form of political organization, but it has been “hacked” by large corporations (defined as “persons” by the Supreme Court) and special interests corrupting the political system with obscene amounts of money (defined as “speech” by the same court).

This delightfully pungent quote is from an article by Al Gore due to appear in the next edition of Rolling Stone on Friday. Six pages long, it’s well worth reading, providing as it does a detail-packed summary of all the good news on the climate change front; from an exponentially expanding park of installed renewables to hints between the lines in the financial press. And there is indeed a great deal more good news than I would have expected, including much that I was entirely ignorant of. Of course there is also a great deal that is still not right and getting worse, and Gore doesn’t skirt around it, but overall he comes down on the side of optimism:

I believe there is a realistic hope that momentum toward a global agreement will continue to build […] and carry through to the Paris negotiations in late 2015.

I would like to share his optimism, but what’s missing here is the detailed information about accumulated CO2e in the atmosphere, now and over the next 25-35 years. Percentages don’t mean much unless you know how they stack up against the actual emission tonnages.

So I’ve mailed Al Gore at The Climate Project:

Thank you for this detailed and thoughtful article which I shall definitely link to on my blog.

However, having just read Clive Hamilton’s “Reqiem” and “Earthmakers” I have my doubts about your optimism. Moreover this article does not help me to make a comparison between your position and Hamilton’s, because there are no hard numbers here, only percentages relating to products, market sectors, etc.

What counts is the amount of CO2e in the atmosphere, as reflected in the ppm numbers. Hamilton’s calculations indicate an imperative need to stabilise at 450ppm no later than 2050. How do you stand on that? As for all the good news you so rightly point up in this article, how do the numbers look in the context of that target?

I’ll keep you posted.

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