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As Dire as It Sounds, IPCC Report Is an Understatement

The consensus text does not track the bleeding edge of anxiety

There are two things to keep in mind if you would know the climate future. The first is that, as scientific statesman John Holdren likes to say, it will come to us as a mixture of mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. The second…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – April 3, 2014

Numbers Game

Countdown
Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?
By Alan Weisman
Little Brown, 2013, 513 pages

During his recent book tour, writer Alan Weisman told me that Paul Ehrlich said, “Countdown is the best book on population written in decades.” It’s a nice line, and I have no reason to dispute it. Countdown is, I agree, a good book and a fine read. It crosses dangerous ground, and while it stumbles, it does not fall. If it’s read closely and fairly – a big if these days –…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – Spring 2014

Peak Oil as Wishful Thinking

-Tom Athanasiou is the director of the Earth Island-sponsored project EcoEquity and a member of the Greenhouse Development Rights authors’ group. His interests focus on distributive justice within the global environmental emergency. Is our civilization doomed? I don’t think so, though I’ll admit that the case for doom is a pretty good one. But I wish to be clear on two points. First, it’s not too late to avoid disastrous climate change.…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – Winter 2014

Climate Denialism has Peaked. Now What Are We Going to Do?

We need action on the scale that’s actually necessary, rather than the scale that appears to be possible

It was never going to be easy to face the ecological crisis. Even back in the 1970s, before climate took center stage, it was clear that we the prosperous were walking far too heavily. And that “environmentalism,” as it was called, was only…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – April 8, 2013

End Times

Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth

By Sasha Lilley, David McNally, Eddie Yuen, James Davis, with a foreword by Doug Henwood PM Press, 2012, 192 pages There are four essays in this slim volume: one on left catastrophism, one on green catastrophism, one on right catastrophism, and one on zombies. I’m most interested in the left and the greens, though we do need to keep an eye on the right. As for the zombie craze, doesn’t it just…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – Spring 2013

Dream a Little Dream

America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
By James Gustave Speth
Yale University Press, 2012, 272 pages

Gus Speth has been around the block – cofounder of the World Resources Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, advisor to President Jimmy Carter, head of the UN Development Program, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences at Yale. He’s been a busy man, and more importantly, he’s an honest one. While not repudiating his past efforts, he readily admits that, at least when it comes to “the…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – Winter 2013

Equity: No Longer a Peripheral Issue at Global Climate Talks

What’s needed now is courage, and a bit of real statesmanship that takes into account the evolving realities of this mad and dangerous world

Well, the annual climate talks began again today. This time they’re in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which has the highest per-capita emissions in the world. Equity is, of course on the agenda. The surprise — at least it’s a surprise for…
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by: Tom Athanasiou – November 26, 2012

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