Two big mistakes
Essential to human existence is: to estimate dangerous developments in time to true size and then to prevent them by timely intervention.
For such a timely correct anticipation you need feeling and reason.
Feeling, because you have to be able to sense the dimensions that are going to come into motion up to your bones, and thinking because you then have to oversee the various variables in the situation in their interaction, figure out future scenarios of their dynamics, then draw your plan, and finally actually do the right thing. Feeling only grows on experience. Why did the lookout sitting atop the mast of a seagoing ship used to be able to smell foul weather from miles away? Because he had experienced almost the full bandwidth of the movements of sea, air, and ship inside out for hours and hours, years and years. If that one roared something down, it wasn't shit, but a 100% hit.
Anyway. Very few people can be said to have seen the current escalation of climate instability coming as early as 1998. Worldwide only James Hansen and Fred Pearce, and in NL some people centered around Bob Goudswaard, Jac Nijssen, and Lucas Reijnders. Elsewhere, people weren't really worried about it, being reassured by the emphasis on the massive time lags in climate dynamics highlighted annually by the wishful thinking calculators and journalists of the free energy-addicted West. And so the appraisals of the above persons were not appreciated. But what went collectively wrong here? Because two incredible misjudgments have caused this matter to spiral out of control for years now:
The leeway there would be on vegetal growth conditions has been completely overestimated. Publicly and scientifically. Plants, animals and humans would have no problem adapting to climate change. Forget it really. In fact, this overestimation stems from ignorance-thinking about the fragility of any growth process, especially in its early stages, and empty-headedness about what becoming unstable means to a system. The increasingly rapid oscillation between ever more distant extremes, the nervous play between positive and negative feedback forces in search of new equilibria and a different repertoire, all these things scientists, agronomists and citizens have been unable or unwilling to imagine. Not even right now: time and again, scientists come to declare that plants, animals and humans can adapt. They fail to see that adaptation is always after the event and that it succeeds if when what changed then becomes stable again. In that case you can adapt with good luck and regain lost productivity.
But you can't adapt to a system that becomes unstable in the long run. That will knock you around and is going to show you all the angles without giving you even a moment's chance to rebound.
See here, for example, for a moment how quickly Spanish agriculture and horticulture are already completely stuck on water and temperature conditions. And the climate is currently changing so fast that only by putting godawful brakes on emissions in a few years will we be able to prevent it from unleashing. Then it will remain unstable for millions of years. Before then a paradisiacal equilibrium situation will reappear as we have now experienced it, is not worth the effort of foresight.
From the very beginning, the core role that energy plays in society's struggle for daily bread (and love/respect/security) has been completely ignored. The link to the function that energy performs in our existence has not been made. As a result, the drift behind this grasping for energy, and thus the tremendous thrust behind increasingly massive global emissions, has never been faced. That iceberg hiding under the climate problem initially fiercely clogged and filtered perception (see the first mistake), and now makes elites with dynamite up their asses look for technical ways out. All means are good to avoid having to attack the real problem namely the setup (agreements, morals, and laws) of our mutual competition for income and assets.
In short: the social debate on climate and the entire political and scientific reflection circus surrounding it has smelled the steam but has avoided the hot stuff; has danced around the bush. That seems convenient, but you don't get out in that way. You can't wash the pig if you only reflect on its ears.
Back to basics; Why?
Every year we all see the movements around us become more massive. We see ports, airports, roads, and servers getting bigger, wider, busier and faster. This increase in mobility, of increasing movement and interaction is not madness, but an ever-increasing grab for the weapon with which people try to outpace each other in the daily struggle for access to resources, love, knowledge, attention, and power; to get ahead, to stay in the race. They are energy addicted, or at least highly dependent and connected to it.
No! In the game we play with each other societally, the main role is assigned to (formerly) power and (nowadays) energy. The deployment of energy is decisive for any outcome.
One way out
Thus, in our opinion, the only way to escape unscathed from this emissions spiral is to completely reform our socio-economic conventions, and in particular the societal rules concerning the way we compete for property and income in everyday life. Why?
If the first mistake (see above) means that our food supply and living situation will soon plunge completely into the danger zone, much deeper intervention in energy use will be required than has been hypothesized by everyone from the beginning. Such a turn (i.e. a super-fast phase-out of fossil fuels) can only be made by fully prioritizing the care of vegetal growth processes over all other activities. And that deep transformation will never succeed unless those who lose their jobs as a result are offered other opportunities. That will only be possible by halting the competition for essential basic needs, and allocating to everyone an equal share of the available assets in order to give everyone an adequate access to those basic needs.
The intellectual expert community however not only failed to estimate the climate movements to true size, but also failed to get the social dimension of the massive drive of emissions right from the start. The social-economic game (the existing order) remained playable according to them, could continue unrestrained according to them, one just had to do some work on some inputs, but do not worry, the technicians will solve that by then. Their message: just plunge quietly into the daily tussle to consolidate and expand your position.
See how wonderfully unconsciously the drive to maintain their position filtered the perceptions of scientists and engineers, and made them eagerly listen to the ruling elites. Because of that basic servitude - conditio sine qua non - their value identification with the ruling order becomes a drag anchor under the maintenance of the status quo, especially near risky events and system breaks.
If the IPCC scientists had listened less to the ruling elites, there would have been much more structure built into the climate models about the mechanism according to which the demand for energy generates itself socially and economically in the long run. There would then have been more insight into the actual controllability of that demand, and thus into the possibilities of slowing down emissions much more abruptly than you will ever be able to do now through a technical energy transition of an unconstrained growing economy. That blind spot in their models also slowed and stifled the emergence of broad-based revolts against current climate politics....
Since 1998, we published frequently about the aforementioned misjudgments and mistakes (in our opinion). In each article, we reasoned a rather unusual solution to avoid to end up into a mess climatically. Yes, it involves some uncomfortable interventions in the way we allocate resources to each other, but, although this way out is an emergency leap, it is completely democratically feasible, 100% safe, and implementable without the need to develop new technology. By safe we mean that it allows us to stay out of the twilight zone where the point of irreversible climate disruption will hit us out forever. Now that we are becoming more clearly caught up in the catastrophe, our perspective on the interplay between social and climate dynamics might make sense to take a closer look at.
One thing is quite certain:
Climate keeps its promises