Today I attended the Focus the Nation – UC Berkeley: Global Warming Solutions for America conference here in Berkeley, California at the International House. It it was held in the auditorium with about 500 folding chairs most of which were filled with intelligent well educated and well intentioned people. I was hoping for some profound lectures because after all this is Berkeley and there is a tradition of great things coming out this Athens of the West, and out of this very room. But to my profound chagrin there was nothing but blah blah. If you click this “Focus the Nation” report you will get ninety percent of what was said. The other ten percent is just as lame it just doesn’t happen to be in this fancy boiler plate blurb. The solutions presented could be found in any small town publication any where on planet Earth but in this particular case with some ya ya buzz words added to make it seem more Bezerkeley profound. Take the first sentence of this blat as an example, “We stand at a critical moment in history: climate change is upon us and it is the social, economic and moral challenge of this generation.” Any hack politician in the last ten thousand years could have stared his sermon with those “momentous” words, oh yes, they would subtract the word climate and insert just about anything more relevant to their particular situation. Here is a fun challenge, print out that document and underline or cross out the buzz words and see what you have left. Nothing! At least nothing suggestive of useful solutions to the real problems, – just lets all get together, get high, sing songs, get out in the streets, and protest and the world will be just fine. It was stated that that worked in the 60s so that is what will work now. Nonsense – it was people who escaped from that 60s silliness like Andy Grove, a Berkeley graduate of the time, who co-founded Intel, who was effective in making the best part of modern world while the druggie street culture mostly ended up with rotting brains and bodies.
Everything that was presented at this conference was palliative band-aids, plastering over the real problems, and there was not a breath or mention let alone confrontation of the real issues which lie behind the problems and confound the global warming problem and make it unsolvable by those leaders on the podium. In fact they make the problem worse every day by distracting people and energy away from exploring the real fundamental issues. There could have been mention of or better yet a list of the exact places where people with new methods for coping with these problems might go for financial and personal help.
The underlying problems and their solutions are unpleasant and therefore unpopular and therefore these nice successful social type people are unwilling to discuss them – these are all nice people but the solutions to these grave problems are going to remain un-nice and unpopular. Unpopular, unpleasant things are not discussed by nice people. The underlying problems include:
1. Too many people – there is a continuing population explosion and reducing each persons carbon footprint means little, if at the end of some projected time period to reduce CO2 by say thirty percent there are twice as many people. The total increase in number of people per year is now 3.6 times what it was in 1900 and that was considered on ongoing population explosion.
2. Exhaustion of resources – water, land, oil, are the things which produce our food and with the wholesale mining and with the destruction of these resources eventually there will ensue a famine and a population collapse. The population decline will probably be precipitous when it happens because we are mining resources down to a level where it takes a complex high technology to exploit them and if and when that technology falters a massive population collapse must immediately ensue. Currently, we have approximately fifteen days of food supplies stored in the channel from farm to mouth.
3. Nuclear proliferation and major war – I am fearful that these nice people will bring their types into major political office. None of the speakers even came close to mentioning what the influence of what they are proposing would be on those unpleasantly profound dangers. These nice people make heroes of leaders such as hansom charismatic Presidents who repeatedly brought us to the brink of annihilation and tend to vilify those farsighted people who pulled us away from catastrophe.
4. Economic confusion – The flow of money is subject to strange fluxes and distortions. It is probable that no one really knows what is happening well enough to prevent sharp, unpleasant events. Or if they do has enough clout to do anything effective. Most of these fluctuations can be endured by a healthy society but societies are not always healthy, and the fluctuations are not always small and when the problems I have been abstracting upon collide they may be synergistic and create short term devastation vastly beyond gradual global warming and a 3mm per year sea level rise.
There may have been a single constructive event at the meeting and that was that Bryan Martel, the Managing Director of Environmental Capital Group was introduced. He was sitting in the audience a few rows behind me. During the break I sought him out, we talked briefly and he gave me his card. This could be the beginning of something big because I have workable solutions for many of the problems I have been whining about in this blog.