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"hardwired for hope"

I don't see how this can be argued against, and I think it's the key to the climate story.

Following it, our inability to seriously ponder the worst causes us to only prepare for the bad. Additionally, our innate optimism and hope for the success of our preparations causes us to severely overestimate their effect, with the end result that even our weakened preparations often fall woefully short of their intended effect.

That's what's happening in Paris. We're approaching the negotiations with most nations on board to combat the bad, but not the worst, and much of the effort will be in the form of future promises, most to all of which are likely to be severely over-estimated. We'll be going after the low-hanging fruit of emissions and we'll have the tendency to minimize growth factors, the emissions of replacements (like biomass and natural gas), and the emissions from developing nations.

It's politically unpalatable for most nations to see complete failure in Paris. We will get some sort of agreement. The governmental leaders and the media will then tout the "success" of the event. The story will be that it's not enough, but it's a start - and that's what Kolbert is referencing.

What's likeliest, though, are 3 things: 1) the fund for developing nations to "leapfrog" fossil fuels will lack clarity and fall short of targets (and even $100 billion a year is far too short of what's needed), 2) the non-binding promises will be based on over-optimistic analysis for a variety of reasons, and 3) the "success" of Paris will actually cause many nations to ease up for a few years in implementing their goals, as the political pressure will be temporarily relaxed.

The foundation for believing that Paris can be later improved upon would be the majority of nations reaching their intended targets from Paris in the next 1-2 decades. However, if this doesn't happen, there won't be an improvement of Paris as much as a modification of it.

Assuming there isn't a crippling economic crash of some sort in the next few decades, it's pretty likely that we'll see quite a lot of renewables deployment in that time. I'd also say it's likely that coal use will peak globally, and more quickly than we considered even 5 years ago. However, it's also likely that all of our efforts, as global growth continues, will keep us on a track of 3-4 degrees C warming - and that's without many positive feedbacks factored in or surprises like what's going on in Indonesia being considered.

Our innate optimism will be large reason for this failure.

Now, here's the "success" of Paris put another way. Instead of "it wasn't enough, but it's a great start", it's "we couldn't currently treat the issue seriously enough, so we made a bunch of non-binding promises towards reducing only a percentage of emissions by going after the easiest sources to reduce with the assumption that most nations would keep these promises in faltering economies and shifting national governments, and then we hoped that we'd improve them further".

But, it'd be unforgivable to say that.

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