BCA: Decarbonisation to “wreck” economy (species extinction to save it?)

The Business Council of Australia is up to its old tricks, at The Guardian:

The Business Council of Australia will find itself the target of a negative advertising campaign for declaring that an emissions reduction target of 45% would wreck the Australian economy.

With Labor planning to go to the federal election with an emissions reduction target of 45%, and the Coalition spoiling for a partisan fight, the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute will invest campaign resources in debunking a claim from the BCA that the proposed target is “economy-wrecking”.

In public statements in support of the Coalition’s now dumped national energy guarantee, a policy that included an emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030, the BCA described that level of abatement as “workable” but characterised Labor’s 45% alternative as “economy wrecking”.

Just as well climate change isn’t economy wrecking, at Domainfax:

The outlook for early rains that would ease the drought and elevated bushfire risks over eastern Australia is dimming even as the chance of an El Nino appears to be receding, climate models suggest.

The latest Bureau of Meteorology update on the main climate influences for Australia show while the chance of an El Nino forming in the Pacific remains about 50-50, some models have pushed back the start of any event until later in the year.

…A gauge of relative warmth between western and eastern regions – known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – has now exceeded its “positive” threshold. That means waters off north-western Western Australia are relatively cool, resulting in less moisture rising in that region and becoming available for rain-bearing clouds.

And at Bloomie the coup de grace of economic success:

…as the U.S. stumbles through a second consecutive season of record hurricanes and fires, more academics are approaching questions once reserved for doomsday cults. Can modern society prepare for a world in which global warming threatens large-scale social, economic, and political upheaval? What are the policy and social implications of rapid, and mostly unpleasant, climate disruption?

Those researchers, who are generally more pessimistic about the pace of climate change than most academics, are advocating for a series of changes—in infrastructure, agriculture and land-use management, international relations, and our expectations about life—to help manage the effects of crisis-level changes in weather patterns.

…Propelling the movement are signs that the problem is worsening at an accelerating rate. In an article this summer in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 climate scientists from around the world argued that the planet may be much closer than previously realized to locking in what they call a “hothouse” trajectory—warming of 4C or 5C (7F or 9F), “with serious challenges for the viability of human societies.”

Jem Bendell, a professor at the University of Cumbria who popularized the term deep adaptation, calls it a mix of physical changes—pulling back from the coast, closing climate-exposed industrial facilities, planning for food rationing, letting landscapes return to their natural state—with cultural shifts, including “giving up expectations for certain types of consumption” and learning to rely more on the people around us.

But all of those broken windows will add to GDP, eh BCA, and that’s the main thing!

The BCA needs to get out more. If it can drag itself away from rent-seeking for a minute I suggest reading Jeremy Grantham’s latest:

It was always going to be difficult for us – Homo sapiens – to deal with the long-term, slow-burning problems that threaten us today: climate change, population growth, increasing environmental toxicity, and the impact of all these three on the future ability to feed the 11 billion people projected for 2100.

Our main disadvantage is that our species has developed over the last few hundred thousand years not to address this kind of long-term, slow-burning issue, but to stay alive and well-fed today and perhaps tomorrow. Beyond that we have a history of responding well only to more immediate and tangible threats like war.

Ten thousand years ago, or even a hundred years ago, these problems were either mild or nonexistent. Today they are accelerating to a crisis. And at just this time, when of all times we could use a lucky break, our luck has deserted us. We face a form of capitalism that has hardened its focus to short-term profit maximization with little or no apparent interest in social good just as its power to influence government and its own fate has grown so strong that only the biggest most powerful corporations and the very richest individuals have any real say in government. To make matters worse, we have an anti-science administration that overtly takes the side of large corporations against public well-being, even if that means denying climate change and stripping the country of the very regulations designed to protect us. The timing could not be worse. It is likely we in the US will lose – indeed, we are losing already – the stable and reasonable society that we have enjoyed since The Great Depression. Beyond the US, the risks may be even greater, with the worst effects in Africa – threatening the failure of an entire continent.

Our one material advantage is in the accelerating burst of green technologies, which has been better than anyone expected 10 or even 5 years ago and that may in the future be able to offset much of the accelerating damage from climate change and other problems. Yet despite these surprising technological advances, we have been losing ground for the last few decades, particularly in the last few years. Somehow or other we must find a way to do better. We must expand on our strengths in technology while fighting our predisposition toward wishful thinking, procrastination, and denial of inconvenient long-term problems. We must also find inspirational leadership, for without it this race, possibly the most important struggle in the history of our species, may not be winnable. It is about our very existence as a viable civilization. We will need all the leadership, all the science and engineering, all the effort, and all the luck we can muster to win this race. It really is the race of our lives.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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