Facing the monster

Our species continues to surprise me.  We are capable of so much, and yet we never seem to learn.

I was at a presentation recently, the topic being the environment in broad terms, but more specifically about climate change, and the presenter was asked if Sandy would be the wake-up moment for the powers that be.  The presenter said, “I don’t know.  I hoped Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Irene would do it.”

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, former climate change denier, and recent requestor of $37 billion in federal money for Sandy, is going to veto a bill that would ban fracking in his state.

Let’s be very clear here.  Move your lips if it helps:

Releasing fossil fuels into the atmosphere is what causes climate  change.  It’s going to get worse.  The CO2 in the atmosphere now will be there for the next 1000 years.    Every CO2 emission today just adds to the problem tomorrow.

Government knows this, of course.  But they aren’t going to do anything that might save the next generation, and I use the singular deliberately.  They are between the proverbial rock and hard place.

Can you imagine the following scenario?

President Obama (and other heads of state in other countries, mostly Europe) addresses the nation, teaches the nation about climate change and the outcomes we are heading to and announces that, to avert the worst case scenario (total extinction of the species and total collapse of the planet), the following are effective immediately:

Nuclear plants go into safe shutdown mode immediately.

Gas rationing goes into effect immediately.

The auto industry is nationalized and retasked for mass transit.

The fossil fuel industry is nationalized and products are redirected.

US military bases around the world are closed.

Air travel is substantially reduced, to be phased out quickly.

I can only imagine the reaction these pronouncements would be greeted with; and yet I have no idea of doing all of that immediately (assuming we’re joined by other countries) is enough to avert catastrophic climate change or not.  It looks more and more like we might be past the tipping point.  Is our moral imperative to try to save as many people as possible or to try to save the planet itself?  I’m not sure anymore that we should even attempt to save people.

Climate scientists have been warning us for 30 years and we did nothing.  We’re still doing nothing – worse than nothing – because fracking and tar sands only make the problem worse, faster.  It’s insane.

Positive feedback loops have been triggered, which will affect climate in unpredictable, non-linear ways, making modeling and prediction difficult.

The monster is loose.

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1 Response to Facing the monster

  1. It doesn't take a genius says:

    I’m reminded of the “monkey trap” (A cage containing a banana with a hole large enough for a monkey’s hand to fit in, but not large enough for a monkey’s fist (clutching a banana) to come out. Used to “catch” monkeys that lack the intellect to let go of the banana and run away.)

    We homo sapiens “lack the intellect” to let go of fossil fuels and so will remain in our own monkey trap until it’s too late. So sad; so sad.

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