In seinem Buch Carbon Ideologies breitet William T. Vollmann ein genauso detailiertes wie fatalistisches Bild einer Welt aus, deren Kampf gegen den Klimawandel bereits verloren ist. Bleibt die Frage, wie sehr er verloren ist und für wen, oder in den Worten von Rezensent Wen Stephenson im Baffler: „all fuckedness is relative. Climate catastrophe is not a binary win or lose, solution or no-solution, fucked or not-fucked situation“.
Yes, of course, we’re fucked. (Though it’s important to specify the “we” in this formulation, because the global poor, the disenfranchised, the young, and the yet-to-be-born are certifiably far more fucked than such affluent, white, middle-aged Americans as Vollmann and myself.) But here’s the thing: with climate change as with so much else, all fuckedness is relative. Climate catastrophe is not a binary win or lose, solution or no-solution, fucked or not-fucked situation. Just how fucked we/they will be—that is, what kind of civilization, or any sort of social justice, will be possible in the coming centuries or decades—depends on many things, including all sorts of historic, built-in systemic injustices we know all too well, and any number of contingencies we can’t foresee. But most of all it depends on what we do right now, in our lifetimes. And by that I mean: what we do politically, not only on climate but across the board, because large-scale political action—the kind that moves whole countries and economies in ways commensurate with the scale and urgency of the situation—has always been the only thing that matters here. (I really don’t care about your personal carbon footprint. I mean, please do try to lower it, because that’s a good thing to do, but fussing and guilt-tripping over one’s individual contribution to climate change is neither an intellectually nor a morally serious response to a global systemic crisis. That this still needs to be said in 2018 is, to say the least, somewhat disappointing.)
As experts (and other people, like me) have been saying for years now, it is almost certainly too late to prevent highly disruptive and, in many places, catastrophic climate change within this century, with all the human misery and death that will bring. But it’s also the case that rigorous analyses (though you won’t find them in Carbon Ideologies) show how most of the world’s energy systems could in fact be radically decarbonized in the coming decades; that the barriers are not technological or economic; and that there are now signs of the political and economic winds shifting globally, in spite of (and in response to) Donald Trump’s election. Are they shifting fast enough? Not even close. Is the carbon lobby still doing everything it can to obstruct and delay? Yes, by all means. And even if the world somehow miraculously moves as fast as possible between now and mid-century, as scientists are calling for, will it prevent dangerous and destabilizing climate disruption for centuries and possibly millennia to come? Probably not. In fact, achieving the vaunted Paris Agreement goals would actually require “negative emissions” technologies, capable of pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere on a vast scale, which remain largely speculative (not to say fantasy).
So, yes, Vollmann and other doomists are right that it’s a no-win situation—depending on what you mean by “win.” If you mean “stopping” or “solving” climate change and preserving the world as we’ve known it, then the climate fight was “lost” a long time ago, maybe before it began. And yet science also tells us that, even at this late date, some versions of “losing” could look far worse than others. We can still lose less badly! Not the most inspiring battle cry, perhaps, but when you understand the stakes—human survival—still a cause worth lifting a finger for.
Die Klimawandel-Geficktheit unserer Gesellschaft ist relativ. Hätten wir das also geklärt.
Hier noch ein paar Links zur Relativitätstheorie:
- In Alaska wird der Permafrost-Boden für die Öl-Industrie durch Thermosiphons künstlich abgekühlt. Carbon-Kapitalismus at its most absurd.
- Der Detroiter Energiedienstleister Consumers Energy wird bis 2040 auf Kohle verzichten, der Frist aus dem Pariser Abkommen, also ungefähr 20 Jahre zu spät. Woanders dürfte es mit dem Kohleausstieg nicht besser aussehen.
- Der Rückgang des Arktis-Eises hat sich in den letzten 5 Jahren verdreifacht.
- Exxon versucht, sich im Gerichtsverfahren wegen der Verschleierung ihrer eigenen wissenschaftlichen Klimawandel-Erkenntnisse in den 80er Jahren, als Opfer einer „linken Verschwörung“ darzustellen und beruft sich, Achtung!, auf ein Free Speech-Argument.
- Die Klima-Ziele des Pariser Abkommens dürften genau zum Fristende vom Klimawandel eingeholt werden: „Global warming is on course to exceed the most stringent goal set in the Paris agreement by around 2040, threatening economic growth, according to a draft report that is the U.N.’s starkest warning yet of the risks of climate change.“