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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Monday, November 23, 2015

His Book Forgot to Mention the Main Way You Can Fight Global Warming

I just read a new book by climate change expert Tim Flannery entitled Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis. Very strangely, the book seems to make no mention of what is probably the top way you can help fight global warming.

In the third part of his book, Flannery looks at various ways to respond to global warming. The first thing he discusses is what he calls adaption. Under this category, he says this: “By painting infrastructure white, cities may more than offset the warming they currently experience.”

I can imagine how this might work. Giant spray trucks might drive down city streets, spraying all the buildings and streets white. When they were done, the streets of our cities  might look like this:  

Flannery even approvingly mentions a plan to spray-paint a mountain white.

Then Flannery mentions geoengineering, various proposed attempts to fight global warming through high-tech monkeying with the planet. These attempts include: injecting sulfur or soot high in the atmosphere, causing more sunlight to be reflected back into space; deploying giant mirrors in space to reflect more sunlight; and releasing iron into the ocean to promote plankton growth. After discussing the complicated issue of biochar, Flannery discusses how giant seaweed farms might be useful in fighting global warming, and makes a complicated discussion of carbon capture and storage.

But what about the individual – what can he or she do? Flannery discusses this in a chapter entitled “The Growing Power of the Individual.” He seems to have two main ideas for how you can fight global warming: (1) install solar panels on your rooftop, or (2) join some citizen's group that is trying to fight global warming.

This chapter neglects to discuss the main way in which ordinary citizens can fight global warming: by reducing consumption. You can reduce consumption by doing things such as: living in a smaller home, eating less meat, buying a smaller car (or not buying a car at all), taking fewer trips by air, traveling shorter distances by air, and buying fewer things. Not only does Flannery neglect to discuss such things in his chapter on the power of the individual, but he also seems to fail to mention them anywhere in his book. Looking at the index of his book, I see no index entries on consumption, diet, meat eating, carbon footprints, travel, lifestyle, or vegetarianism. Those are topics that should be thoroughly discussed in any book subtitled “Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis.”

People should not think that fighting global warming can only be done if they make some “big commitment” step such as painting their rooftop white or spending lots of money on a solar power system. There are 100 varieties of easy-to-do, small steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. You can start by buying less meat at the food store at your next visit. The production of meat is a major cause of global warming. Other small steps you can take is to reduce your shopping, and to take a vacation some place closer to your home. Too lazy to paint your rooftop or join some citizen's group? No problem, there are many lazy man's ways to fight global warming.