Environment

Romm Doubles Down on Egypt/Climate Link

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorFeb 2, 2011 12:37 PM

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I have a few questions for Joe Romm. 1) When you discuss the 2007-2008 , do you focus on what triggered it (such as the housing bubble burst or underlying root causes (such as deregulation)? 2) When you discuss BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, do you focus on what triggered it (such as the blowout preventer) or systemic root causes (such as industry-wide practices)? 3) When you discuss the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, do you focus on what sparked it (such as the suicide of a Tunisian man), a contributing factor (such as rising food prices), or underlying causes (such as social inequity, injustice, and government repression)? Romm need not bother stopping by with his answers. I found them at his blog. 1) He goes with mega-root causes, as this Ponzi scheme post demonstrates. 2) He identifies larger, industry-wide attitudes and practices as the main reasons for the BP spill. (So far, we're two for two, in that Romm explores underlying causes to major events.) 3) He focuses like a laser beam on a single contributing factor (here and here)--high food prices, apparently so he can make a larger, causal connection to global warming. In his latest post, Romm concedes that

major historical events have multiple causes. Some are underlying causes, and some are precipitating or triggering causes.

Then he makes an interesting statement:

Those who believe they understand the underlying causes are only revealing their ignorance if they shout down or dismiss those who are trying to explore some of the precipitating or triggering causes.

That's precious coming from a guy who has done more than anyone to shout down and dismiss others who have explored climate solutions that have differed from his own. In any case, I'm not opposed to rising food prices being part of current Tunisia/Egypt conversation. I've just suggested it be put into some proper perspective, which is captured in these opening lines from an op-ed in today's WaPo:

The demands for change sweeping across the Arab world are the manifestation of unrest that has festered for years. The status quo is unsustainable.

Hmm, "status quo" and "unsustainable"-- two terms often invoked in the climate change debate. Maybe there's a connection to be made somewhere there for those in the climate community who want to expand their frame of reference beyond rising food prices and global warming.

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