The Sad Truth About Climate Change

Posted on September 02, 2010. Filed under 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.

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