Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doha 2012

The first time I saw the video from the Philippines' delegation to Doha 2012 (below), tears came swelling to my eyes.

However, Mr. SaƱo makes it seem as if the world's 7 billion persons were hostages to the delegates (or the masters of the delegates) in Doha.

The reality is completely different: the delegates are the ones that are hostage to the 7 billion persons on Earth.

Why?  Because reducing our carbon emissions would drastically increase the cost of fuels in the world and this is a most unwelcomed proposition. Governments all over the place would be brought down if fuel costs went up.  Hell, this has nearly happened already in several places (e.g. Jordan) just because subsidies to fossil fuels were reduced.

So, let's not kid ourselves; the reason we use fossil fuels so much is only one: they are the cheapest sources of energy in this planet. ANY other alternative would either be more expensive or much more expensive. Besides the amount of high carbon energy that needs to be replaced is so gigantic that there is really nothing in the pipeline that could substitute it.  (Nuclear could, in theory, do the job, but even if we started tomorrow a massive nuclear reactor construction program it would take decades to make a big dent on our carbon emissions).

Unless the global economy just came crashing down or the human population were drastically reduced (by an epidemic or other means), our carbon emissions will continue to increase in the near and maybe medium term.

What should we do? Invest our time and resources on mitigation. As German government adviser Kai Konrad stated several days ago: we need to build higher dikes.

Eventually, (and sooner than we think) the "external" costs of burning fossil fuels will be so common place that they will hit us in the face and then we will realize that the total costs of fossil fuels are much higher than what we pay at the pump, so to speak.

Now, THAT would change our behavior hopefully before we reach the 4 degree threshold (in the 2 degree threshold we can "build higher dikes", in the 4 degree one, we'll all die).  So, bottom line, our hope is in "internalizing" the "external" costs of burning fossil fuels.

And by the way, these global climate summits make no sense whatsoever.  They should be discontinued because, again, delegates are powerless to confront the 7 billion persons on Earth that just want cheap fuel.