The more I’ve had the chance to read about Climate Change, the more I’m convinced that we (collectively referring to all of us currently squatting here on Planet Earth) probably cannot fix what’s already been loosed upon the world (although we will be convinced until the bitter end that we can).
Looking at the situation through a very broad lens reveals to me that, to take in the unfolding big picture being knowledgeably presented by the scientific community, you have to be willing to take the equivalent of a punch to the gut by a heavyweight boxer in his prime. Very unscientific, I know, but my gut is telling me we’re somewhat screwed, to put things mildly. Internal hemorrhaging is a given at this point, and the diagnosis will almost certainly get more dire with each dithering year that passes.
Why do I assess things as such? Well, because as I’ve described myself elsewhere on this blog, I’m a realist first, a bit of a skeptic second, and also just too plain old to know better when it comes to being optimistic just because the pundits say we should be. It will take much more political will on a global scale to turn the ship’s rudder hard enough that an undisputed new (and better) course for our ship can be recognized by all. Right now, I feel no profound turning whatsoever, do you?
Climate Change cares nothing about political election cycles. It doesn’t care about Capitalism’s assumption that eternal growth must be baked right into the recipe or the whole cake collapses. It cares not a wit that fossil fuel companies are still hell bent on extracting ever more oil out of the ground, even after the scientists have warned that if we do so, we have about a snowball’s chance in Hell of overcoming this immense problem facing many generations to come. Every possible scientifically-based statistic out there shows what many people simply refuse to believe: we’re heading for a precipice, and there’s very little time to stop this otherwise catastrophic plunge into the climatic unknown.
Do any of my older readers remember a song by Billy Joel called We Didn’t Start the Fire? Good! In similar fashion, I’m going to run through a laundry list of just a few things that we’re up against, because…we did start this fire with a little something known as The Industrial Revolution:
Greenland is melting fast…Arctic sea ice is virtually non-existent in the summer months now (we can probably remove the word “virtually” from the sentence in 2017 or 18)…coral reefs are bleaching and productive fisheries are becoming harder to come by…atmospheric carbon is now permanently past 400 ppm…most (maybe all) of the world’s glacial ice is in retreat…oceans are acidifying and also heating up…sea levels are rising as a result…methane hydrates are being released from the permafrost and it looks like it’s going to get worse (methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2)…historic water events are occurring ever more frequently because a warm atmosphere holds much more water vapor…heatwaves are occurring more frequently, and flooding, too (we keep hearing the terms “historic” and “record-breaking” at a nauseating pace as the media reports on such weather-related events with alacrity)…forest fires are now more intense and frequent, partly because drought conditions are now more prevalent, providing the kindling that today’s mega-fires thrive on to sustain themselves…fresh water aquifers are being overburdened by a thirsty and growing human populace less able to rely on alternative resources that evaporate mercilessly…species are dying out at an unprecedented rate (why do most of us not even know about this?)…diseases that were previously relegated to the tropics only are finding a foothold in higher latitudes due to increased temperatures.
Okay, that’s enough for now, and only a beginning.
Scary stuff, right? Of course it is. It’s awful and there’s no way around it. So why don’t we see that all-important political will I mentioned earlier? Well, because we’ve sort of painted ourselves into a corner. We’re in a pickle. The human population will continue to increase for a very long time to come (decades anyway), even if at a slower pace. That means we (again, collectively referring to all of us currently squatting on the planet, chewing our cuds and blithely denying that there’s any problem at all by playing with snowballs on the Senate floor) we need to create more jobs, build more shelters, manufacture more transportation, provide more clean water, grow more food. In short, we need growth.
How do you provide all that (by opening up your economic engine full throttle) at the same time you’re pulling back on fossil fuels, and, by default, reducing greenhouse emissions? After all, there’s nothing that packs the same energy punch as a barrel of good ole crude oil, and it’s hard to dissuade those who want it out of the ground…now. So how do they (meaning…ugh-politicians) go screaming around the oval to win the jobs growth race while being told that you need to stand on the brakes so hard your tires will probably burn up right underneath you? It’s like a fully revved motor going nowhere fast. It reminds me of a poster of Don Garlits that used to hang in my room as a kid. Big Daddy is in his dragster performing a magnificent burnout, with a big ball of flame rising up behind him as he gains traction at the start line. Lots of heat, lots of light, no forward motion.
We can’t agree in Congress on anything. Partisanship rules the day and ruins the country. Maybe that’s why it felt like an international accord in Paris, reliant on the agreement of many dozens of signatures, was a foregone conclusion from the outset. Funny thing is…even if we are politically standing still, we’re still burning through a whole lot of energy. Which is why I say we probably cannot fix this. I think the best we’re going to manage is to adjust to events that are truly going to surprise us.
In the meantime, things are heating up in the political arena, and will continue to do so. Don’t think it goes unnoticed by those who care about these things that Donald is a member of the Climate Change deniers. Or that Hillary has barely uttered a word about anything directly relating to climate. As I said, however, the big CC doesn’t give a tinky you-know-what about election cycles. It’s got other business to attend to, like showing the world, one historic climate event at a time, how much more costly the price tag is going to be, in more ways than one, the longer we wait to implement deep and decisive change.
Check out these related posts, and sincere thanks for stopping by!