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Daily Connect: Carbon Nationalism and Ecological Materialism

The debate around global climate change has peeked into news headlines again this week.   Deadly tornadoes have ripped through MIssouri and Alabama in recent weeks, causing many folks to speak up about their view on the relationship between human related CO2 output and extreme weather events.  Recent research suggests at least Some link between human activity, CO2 levels and events of extreme precipitation.    

New to me this week was a piece of news highlighting a method of dealing with carbon emissions utilized by the UK.  George Monibot, who writes for the Guardian, reports a case of "false accounting" by developed nations in tracking their Carbon output by moving industrial and heavy manufacturing to developing nations like China.   With trimmer CO2 "output" levels reported, everything looks great, but an actual increase increase in CO2 is produced when imported goods are included:

"Officially, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen from 788 million tonnes in 1990 to 566mt in 2009 (2). Unofficially, another 253mt should be added to our account(3). That’s the difference between the greenhouse gases released when manufacturing the goods we export and those released when manufacturing the goods we import."

Monibot calls this policy "carbon nationalism", which is the effort a country makes to maintain an appearance of action against rising carbon levels, whether or not their activities actually contribute to a decrease or not.  This is effectively devolves the process of confronting climate change into a measuring contest, a sort of "ecological materialism".  IMHO that is more of the same game that got us into this mess.

Whether or not you beleive that human carbon output is directly linked to climate change, one fact most people would agree on is that the world is round and not flat.  Attempting to sweep a problem over the edge will not work, because the horizon will always creep towards you and become the land under your feet, and there still will lay the problems you are trying to resolve.

It appears as if a different approach would be required to deal with emissions levels, one that incorporates all aspects of the problem, including where and how goods are made, how they are transported, how they are sold, how they are used and how they are disposed of.   Any solution that measures only a part of this process will likely be missing the big picture.


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