The Sad Truth About Climate Change

September 02, 2010 Tagged with: politics, environment

(This post is going to make some people hate me. I’m sorry for this in advance.)

I’ve come to some peace about climate change. I wasn’t obsessing about it before, but I do think about it quite a bit.

The debate rages over the source of climate change – is it something we’re doing, or something natural? Someone would say the debate is settled, and the only people denying it are people with a vested interest in denying it. The evidence certainly looks this way, to be honest. If you’re still denying the causes of global warming, you’re in the vast minority.

But, Here’s the thing – it doesn’t matter what is causing climate change. It could be us, it could be nature. Knowing the truth isn’t going to change anything. Even if the evidence for humans causing global warming becomes utterly and completely incontrovertible (some say it is already), nothing will change.

We can’t get any climate change legislation off the ground in the U.S. The latest attempt is already DOA, and we have a Democratic-controlled Congress (both houses, no less), and a Democratic president. Since it seems likely the Democrats are going to get slaughtered in the November elections, I think this was their only shot. Obama is going on two years, and nothing has been done. If it hasn’t happened by now, it ain’t gonna happen.

On a global stage, it’s even worse. You think Kyoto is going to do anything? it’s been in force for five years now, and while the numbers aren’t really accurate for the last decade, do you honestly think we’re going to see a decline? (Decades from now, we just might realize that by refusing to ratify Kyoto, the U.S. was the only honest country at the table.)

Assuming anything ever happens with the G20 globally, tHere’s still all the emerging economies to consider. You think India or China or Brazil is going to slow their growth? Not a chance. it’s The Tragedy of the Commons on a grand scale.

What this means is simple: as a human race, we’re never going to put a dent in greenhouse gas emissions. We can give it lip service all we want, but tHere’s no chance anything is going to change. This is sad, sure, but pretending that we can somehow get the whole world to work together on something like this is pipe dream. it’s hard enough to get political consensus for it within a single country – tHere’s just no way the world is going to pull together.

And time is probably short. Some scientists are saying we’ve already tipped, and tHere’s no going back. So we’re either on an inexorable slide to oblivion or very close to it. If it takes 20 years to get the whole world together on this, it might not matter any more.

The end result of this is that perhaps the most efficient thing we could do is simply accept climate change and plan for it. I have nothing against trying to reduce emissions, but in the end, climate change is going to happen, and we’re either going to be prepared for it or not. THere’s a lot of things we could do to adapt to the new normal, and this might be the most efficient use of our resources right now.

This is depressing, I know. And I want to reiterate that I believe the evidence that humans are responsible for climate change and that the entire human race should absolutely come together to stop this crisis.

But we won’t.


cmadler says:

I agree.

If the scientists are correct, and it is human-caused, then it is or will very soon be too late to stop. If it is not human-caused, then no one is sure what is causing it, and it will probably be even more difficult to slow or stop. Either way, I think we’re about at the point where we’ll just have to accept & plan for it.

Chris_ says:

Maybe it’s just the youth in me...or maybe it’s the country kid in me, but I think this post really shows the main problem that is the core of the issue.

Whether it’s climate change or any worldwide problem, waiting around for your government’s talking heads to “do something” is never the solution. Their interests aren’t their constituents’ interests. If you want to make changes, you enact them yourself and teach the importance of it to your children. That is what will make the change.

Giving yourself a free pass by saying, “well, nothing we can do here” is never a true solution, just an easy way to get out of making difficult changes.

(Not trying to hate on you with this response, just challenging the idea that your bringing to the table with the post)

Deane says:

@Chris_: I’m not giving myself a “free pass.” I don’t hug a tree every day, but I’m fairly ecology-mined. However, read this:

Most Consumption is Industrial, Not Personal

Modifying individual consumption doesn’t do jack, really. Most consumption and pollution is at the industrial level, and even with all the plucky gumption in the world, there’s just nothing I’m going to be able to do about that.

Like it or not, change at that level has to be legislated.

Chris_ says:

@Deane: I’m not going to disagree with the findings that most consumption is industrial, but saying that and making the assumption that the change has to be legislated is an unnecessary leap.

Being the owner of a company you realize that industries aren’t autonomous creatures controlling themselves...they’re companies run by people with morals, hopefully good ones. The lessons taught to them by their parents still effect their decisions made daily. If that doesn’t work, the people who cast the important votes daily with their wallets can have just as much of an effect on what these industries produce and how.

deane says:

You’re right, they’re not autonomous. But at the same time, *I don’t run them.* I hope the people that do have morals, but I have no control over it.

And while I believe child-rearing is very important and will have a great impact on the world...we have a window of maybe 20 years, which isn’t long enough for us to make any progress on that front.

In the end, I can vote with my wallet, and that’s what I do. I can control myself, and my behavior, and just hope everyone else does the same and we can put some kind of momentum together.

But we won’t.

The fact is, large, enduring change has to be forced on organizations who place profits over the environment. And I can’t force that change, other than voting in the guy who I think can do it. And we can all see how far that’s gotten us.

Brade says:

The problem is every generation has an apocalyptic prediction like this about whatever. If it’s not the stock market it’s global warming, or it’s overpopulation, or it’s the wrath of God. People are growing more and more skeptical of being told that disaster looms, when the world has survived this long. And I tend to agree. Humans will continue to adapt to whatever challenges come along, as they always do. Does that mean societies might crumble along the way? Maybe, maybe not. Much like we can’t depend on everyone in the world to band together for “global warming” or the cause du jour, we certainly shouldn’t bother using too many present resources trying to “pave the way” for future generations. Each generation has to improvise and adapt to present circumstances, ourselves included. And so it must be for those who come after us.

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