Scott McKay, chef du Parti Vert, de passage à Tout le Monde en Parle:

Le vidéo à été retiré à la demande de Radio-Canada

Politiciens, journalistes, artistes, résidents du plateau, nous disent tous la même chose: il faut agir tout de suite pour sauver la planète. Mais cette hystérie collective ne débouchera sur rien de concret: une réduction drastique de la croissance, voire l’abandon du capitalisme industriel, aura des conséquences plus néfastes sur nos sociétés que le réchauffement climatique.

L'alarmisme a toujours été un bien mauvais conseillé…

The Atlantic Monthly
Global Warming: The Convenient Truth

Something about the global-warming debate encourages overheated rhetoric. To listen to Blair, former Vice President Gore, and many other political figures and environmental activists, you would conclude that global warming is an onrushing cataclysm and that prevention requires all of us to take radical steps right away.

A fairer assessment would be many degrees cooler. It would hold that climate change is real and deserves action, but that the problem is nowhere near as overwhelming as the rhetoric commonly suggests, and the solutions nowhere near as difficult. As problems go, in fact, climate change appears to be one of the most convenient that humankind has ever faced. […]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that the world would continue to warm for decades even if all human greenhouse-gas emissions were to magically stop tomorrow, which of course they won't. In testimony last month before a House of Representatives panel, Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said, "The 2007 IPCC report makes clear that even aggressive mitigation would yield benefits many decades in the future, and that no amount of mitigation can avoid significant climate change."

Carbon dioxide both accumulates and dissipates in the atmosphere very slowly. Because the stock of greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere dwarfs any one year's emissions, and because any one year's emissions can be changed only slightly, stabilizing greenhouse gases is like turning an aircraft carrier, only much slower. Annual emissions might be stabilized toward midcentury, and atmospheric concentrations at some point after that; but sharp turns are impossible and short-term effects minuscule.

That would be cause for alarm in an emergency. And many people talk as if there were one. "We need to act soon, before we reach a tipping point," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said at a hearing in January. Echoing Blair (as is his wont), David Cameron, the leader of Britain's Conservative Party, recently told reporters that the "big question" is, "Are we going to act before it's too late?"

Actually, there is no "too late," because there is no particular CO2 target and no particular date by which it must be met. And there is no emergency. An emergency is a "now or never" situation, but climate change is a "now versus later" situation. Immediacy trades off against efficiency.

"What we do now makes a difference for the future," says Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "The longer we wait, the worse the problem gets." On the other hand, the more precipitously we act, the more we disrupt the economy. A coal-fired electric plant lasts 40 to 60 years; gradually replacing dirty old plants with clean new ones is much more efficient than abruptly decommissioning old plants and replacing them with—well, with nothing, because electric plants take years to build. Besides, the best carbon-cutting technologies are still in development. "We know from experience the length of time it takes to develop and implement new technologies in the electricity sector," says Revis James of the Electric Power Research Institute. "That's about 20 to 25 years."

This argues not for passivity, and not for delay, but for gradualism: setting up policies that will tighten the screws on greenhouse-gas emissions over the next few decades. The convenient truth about global warming, then, is that radicalism is as pointless as it is impractical. Slow-but-steady is not only the easiest approach; it is also the most effective. […]

Because significant warming is already baked into the cake (excuse the expression), climate change for at least the next 50 to 100 years will be a problem to be managed, not solved. Managing it will require mitigating whatever harms it causes: adaptation, in the standard parlance. This, too, turns out to be remarkably convenient. Few, if any, of the problems that climate change seems likely to exacerbate—flooding, storms, drought, tropical disease, habitat loss, extinction—are new or exotic. To the contrary, they are already front and center on the developmental and environmental agendas. […]

Climate change, then, is a reason to do more of what makes sense anyway: reduce coastal vulnerability and strengthen homes to minimize hurricane damage, improve public health and develop drugs to fight malaria, and so on. There is nothing radical about any of this. No rethinking of capitalism is required.

Given how neatly adaptation dovetails with the sustainability agenda, and given its immense potential to relieve whatever human suffering that global warming causes, one might think environmentalists would tout it to the skies. Some do, but many seem to believe that reducing harm distracts from the real job, which is to reduce emissions.

In a blog post last year (at gristmill.org), an environmentalist named David Roberts made the point with startling candor. "In an ideal, abstract policy debate, sure, I'd say we should boost our attention to adaptation," he wrote. "But in the current political situation, I don't want to provide any ammunition for the moral cretins who are squirming frantically to avoid policies that might impact their corporate donors."

This is like denigrating HIV treatment and blocking condom distribution in order to discourage promiscuity. And it is every bit as callous and irresponsible. Where climate change is concerned, the truth—and this truth really is inconvenient, or at least sad—is that too many activists and politicians mistake panic for virtue.