After Climate Despair—Matt Frost

This essay by Matt Frost is the climate change piece I (Phillip) have been waiting for: a learned discussion that accepts the claims of climate science, but dissents from the “brooding pessimism and delusional optimism” of popular climate activists and enthusiasts. Warming is happening and it’s a problem, Frost says. But the consensus view that dealing with our carbon problem involves “imposing equitable austerity via globally coordinated government fiat” is an empty hope. The technological solutions currently on offer are either “prohibitively expensive” (think bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) or “wildly reckless (like pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to block sunlight).” Frost suggests two paradigm shifts in the discussion:

  • Replace the austerity framework with an abundance one: “Our climate approach should presuppose that we are the benefactors of a burgeoning future population, not the progenitors of an ascetic cult formed to dole out a dwindling stock of resources.”

  • Shift from seeing carbon emissions primarily as a human consumption problem to a waste management problem. Instead of storing captured carbon elsewhere in the atmosphere, we need solutions for disposing of carbon to its original home in the lithosphere. “Disposal of sewage and household waste are ordinary parts of civilized life, and carbon disposal could be as well.”

Read “After Climate Despair” at The New Atlantis. You might not buy it all (I certainly don't), but it's a refreshing reframing of the discussion.

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