Requiem for the IPCC… and Dr. Doom

Long time listeners of the Green Majority might be aware that, while I have always been pessimistic and cynical, lately I have been unmistakably angry.

Let me be clear, I have never been pessimistic about our ability to achieve environmental sustainability. Rather, I have been completely pessimistic that we would ever get around to doing so. The most cursory examination of environmental discourse in politics and mainstream news media only confirms this apprehension.

UNIPCC reports are always a source of angst for me. On one hand, there is the tragically uninformed coverage in the mainstream news media. On the other hand, there is the mind numbing outburst of disinformation from the denial machine that inevitably makes its way into “fair” and “balanced” “journalism.” News of Conservative MPs heckling during question period by calling out “global cooling” reminded me painfully how far the goal posts have been moved on this urgent issue.

There will be no more comprehensive IPCC assessment reports. The effects of climate change are occurring too quickly for such a time consuming process. As dire as AR5 is, it is already out of date. But we are not paying attention to them anyway. Even as the IPCC assessment reports cannot keep up with the crisis, we are becoming oblivious to it.

Ironically, this might be a good thing.

The IPCC assessment reports are too much for anyone to absorb – myself included – and are therefore too vulnerable to glib, facile denial and carefully constructed noise. Since the reports are spaced out by years, they lose their “legs” in the news cycle.

In contrast, the Snowden leaks regarding NSA surveillance are a clinic in capturing and keeping the attention of news media. The are a steady stream of specific revelations that continue to inform public discourse. The IPCC might follow this model with similar success.

With the passing of the assessment reports, let us also lay Doctor Doom to rest. What started out as an in-joke by our outrageously funny colleague, Alex, has become an inappropriate and ineffective persona that I sometimes wear all too well.

I have been making the mistake of allowing myself to become defined by the things I oppose rather than the goals I want to achieve. As such, I am no good to myself or the cause of environmentalism. Fighting always makes the conversation about the conflict rather than the cause.

I am never going to “defeat” mainstream environmental discourse as an “enemy;” I am simply over-matched. Besides, I do not want to defeat my enemies, I want to win for all of us.

Neither am I going to devise a road map to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. So, happily, it is time to stop driving myself bonkers by trying and, of course, failing.

The IPCC assessment reports are dead. Doctor Doom is Dead.

Long live Doctor Sustainability

Kevin Farmer

April 08, 2014

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