Sustainable Wales Debate: Is Catastrophic Climate Change Inevitable?

Please support this Sustainable Wales event on Friday, December 7th, at 8pm at the Green Room

[above SUSSED, 4-5 James Street, Porthcawl, CF36 3BG ].With guest speaker: Nick Jepson

For two decades, the only thing that successive failed conferences and declarations on climate change

have been able to agree on is a number: 2 degrees Celsius. If global temperatures rise by more than this,

they say, we run a risk of passing a tipping point from which there will be no return. A runaway spiral of

warming would be the result, at which point reducing emissions will have no effect as the world turns to

desert and 80% of human beings die. This debate is about why we will almost certainly exceed a 2

degree target and why we never really had a chance of doing better.

We have collectively failed in the fight against climate change. This isnt really anyones fault as individuals,

but the fault of a system. I aim to show why the internal logic of capitalism means that it is not only

spectacularly incapable of halting climate change, but in fact makes it inevitable, sooner or later. Whether

we like it or not, we are bound to a system whose rules of operation, its ceaseless need for expansion,

mean there was never a real chance of doing so.

So, what can we do? Do we focus on mitigation and adaptation? Should we be thinking about

controversial geoengineering schemes? Should we pump water Vapour into the air to create artificial

reflective clouds? Seed the oceans with iron fillings to grow carbon eating algae? Put giant mirrors in

space? These are drastic solutions and each time humans have interfered in their environment there

have been unintended consequences, but how do we weigh these against the existential threat of

climate change?

Nick Jepson is a PhD researcher and teacher in global political economy at the University of Bristol.

His doctoral research is on the transformation of the world-system which is taking place as a

consequence of the rise of China, particularly focusing on the implications of this for development and

extractive industries in the Global South.

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