Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

25 Aug 2018

Opportunity missed

Posted by Michael Keating

Getting to sustainability is always going to be hard. A major article in The New York Times Magazine gives a perfect example. It documents how scientists pushed almost to the point of trying to control climate change a generation ago. The article, Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change, documents how scientists, including those from the fossil fuel industry and policy makers especially in the United States knew of the hazards of climate change decades ago. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, senior politicians were seriously considering ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Members of the fossil fuel industry mounted a campaign against controls on their products. Politicians backed away from commitments. While the article is largely about American science and politics, it provides good insights into how hard it is to get societies to make the huge shifts needed to become sustainable. The article is about 30,000 words long. It’s worth reading through if you want to see how issues rise from the science and are handled by politicians. If you want a good synopsis of the implications for dealing with complex issues, go to the epilogue.

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