Can we get on with addressing the challenges of global warming?

A recent study found that over the past 20 years, scientists have written more than 4,000 academic papers on global warming and a nearly unanimous 97.1% of them agreed that climate change exists and is primarily caused by humans.

To quote study leader, John Cooke of the University of Queensland: “Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public
perceptions to the contrary.”  The authors of the survey said ”the finding of near unanimity provided a powerful rebuttal to climate contrarians who insist the science of climate change remains unsettled.”

Now isn’t it time for the mass media to stop the coy and distracting game of “does it or doesn’t it exist”  that keeps us from doing more about the challenges of global warming?

As Bill McKibben details in Eaarth, there is no question any more of the existence of global warming. It’s happening and it’s going to keep happening.  What that means is that securing the Earth as a safe habitat for human beings will entail far more than replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

Here is some of what must be done besides shifting our source of fuel:

  • Secure coast lines and other areas where extreme weather events are likely to increase both in frequency and intensity. Achieving this goal will involve building barriers, dunes, dams and bulwarks; developing commercial and residential buildings that can withstand more intense weather; improving evacuation and emergency response procedures; and reforming the insurance market in high-risk areas.
  • Reduce the population, hopefully by birth control and not famine, war or epidemic.
  • Increase the use of mass transit, especially in the suburbs, and increase the cost of car ownership and operation everywhere.
  • Grow the local food movement, which saves energy both in growing and distributing food.
  • Develop technologies to address the harm that we have already inflicted on the Earth; e.g., remove the carbon dioxide from the oceans and seas and store it in a way that doesn’t interfere with any terrestrial ecosystem; turn polluted or salt water into potable water and deliver it to drought-plagued regions throughout the world.

This short list does not include a lot of other actions we should take right now to address global warming, and by address I mean 1) slow it down or stop it; and 2) deal with the mess we’ve made.

At this point, anyone who spends any time or money in the mass media denying either global warming or human complicity in it is acting irresponsibly and is probably making money through climate change denial in one way or another. They are no better than the money lenders in the Temple. Or the lawyers who constructed the web of falsehoods that purported to serve as the legal basis for the U.S. gulag of torture sites.

One aspect of the global warming denial movement has never made sense to me. The movement depends on funding from a handful of extremely wealthy folk and companies holding large fossil fuel and industrial assets. You’d think that these people would have the most to gain from keeping the Earth clean and safe from the ill effects of global warming. After all, they and their heirs are going to inherit a pretty good chunk of that Earth.

The rich folk and their access to politicians have kept taxes low in the United States and enforced austerity economics across the globe. We know they can get together at Davos, Jackson Hole, Dubai and wherever and impose a new order in which their assets are protected from the destructive vagaries of global warming.  That the very richest people regardless of their holdings have not yet forced governments everywhere to take bold and aggressive steps to combat global warming suggests that our species may in fact carry a collective death wish.




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