Copenhagen wasn’t all that close, but the loss of momentum in the intervening year has been spectacular.
Bill McKibben in a must-read article at The New Republic:
Conservative opinion has been steadily hardening—for decades Republicans were part of the coalition on almost every environmental issue, but now it’s positively weird to think that as late as 2004, McCain thought it would make sense for a GOP presidential candidate to position himself as a fighter for climate legislation. And all of that is troubling. Because we’re going to be dealing with climate change for a very long time, and if one of the great schools of political thought in this country has checked out completely, that process is going to be even harder.
It’s hard to argue with that.
It seems unlikely that either the Republican party will collapse entirely in the foreseeable future. Failing that, it will be a long time before the attachment to a delusional position fades. They’ve staked out a position not on ethics or policy but on science, and that position is just incorrect. And presuming the USA itself doesn’t fail completely in the political chaos of the next few years, the world is hostage to the delusions now being adopted with enthusiasm by the Republican party and their proxies in the mass media.
So now we have to hope that the consensus really is overstated, even though we’ve been getting some inkings of late that it’s understated. Because if things are more than half as bad as we think, we are well and truly hosed. Even if the democrats stage a remarkable recovery in the next two weeks, it won;t be nearly enough. We have lost a decade or two. If we can get matters back on track in time to avoid catastrophe we will be lucky.
For me the problem has lost all sense of urgency. This is not because the evidence has shifted away from urgency. It is because our marginal capacity to deal with the urgency has been crushed. We failed spectacularly to meet the goal of avoiding “dangerous” change. The 2 C target is behind us now. At least we have the luxury of time that we didn’t have until now. I no longer believe we can stay within a 450 ppmv or a 500 ppmv peak. That’s CO2 only, not CO2 equivalent. CO2 equivalent doubling looks to me to be a lock at this point.
I suppose one silver lining is that we will likely be vindicated in the end, in a way that wouldn’t have happened if people had listened to our advice and avoided the danger zone. It’s not going to turn out that way. Fasten your seatbelts, y’all. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.