Monday, June 14, 2021

Scott's Week of Solving Issues

I have decided to just expound on things I have an opinion on this week. Not necessarily the right opinion / solution / cause / response but, come on, when has that ever stopped me?

First up, why don't people believe in Climate Change or the dangers of climate change.

I ask this because climate change is actually here and affects us most of us quite a bit. I believe most people now believe in Climate Change, but what took so long?

I think there are a couple of things working here. Some logical and some illogical. Let's start with the logical reasons.

  1. Early on, it made sense to take the idea with extreme doubt. Science regular makes some bad calls, so why respond to this any differently that other "life and death" issues that fissiled? 
    1. For example, as early as 1798 (!) science predicted that growing population would outstrip food production and mass famine would occur. Instead good production, fertilizer and engineering means food production has grown much faster. And population growth slowed as fewer offspring died and therefore families had fewer children.
    2. The end of fossil fuels was predicted near the end of the 20th century. Instead we found ways to pull natural gas and oil from shale, tar sands and from beneath the oceans.
    3. In the 1960s, Americans (and many others) were convinced that nuclear war would wipe us out within a decade or less. Science may have pushed this idea, to be sure it never happened, but it still seems very "chicken little" in retrospect.
    4. Even the "global pandemic" of Covid has killed far fewer than a similar outbreak during 1918.
  2. Climate change is the ultimate "public good / private wealth" (the economic freeloader model). What I mean is, climate change may well kill us, but it only gets better if everyone responds. Therefore, why should I stop eating meat, if no one else does? Why should America stop using oil when China still uses coal? 
    1. On a national level, governments often play the arbiter when a public good is needed and everyone has to comply. Think public schools, highways or electricity. In most cases the government has to provide these because the costs are too much for one person to bear, and others can use it.
    2. The same process works in reverse for negative consequences (which are more like Climate Change). The US had to provide clean water and clean air standards to stop individual companies from pollution which we all pay for in terms of health.
  3. Corporations (particularly Exxon and other oil companies) spread disinformation when they knew the truth. And, of course, none of them paid a price for this. Exxon knew about climate change in 1978 (which makes sense because I studied it and wrote papers about it in college from 1978-81). In fact, Jimmy Carter and Congress started to attack this in the late 70s, WITH Republican backing. But, when they found it was cheaper to lie about it, and had a White House that was bought with campaign donations, they just lied. And stuck with the lie.
  4. Bad Public Relations. I don't know who remembers, but Climate Change is a relatively new term. It was called "Global Warming" for years, because scientists understood what that term meant (increase energy in the global system) and how it would affect everything. But most of us humans took the term literally (which makes sense) and thought, a little global warming will help, not hurt.
Now the illogical.
  1. "My smart-ass kid told me and they will learn better as they grow up." At least, my dad thought this.
  2. "It is a way liberals want to control what we do." Which is both bullshit and actually kind of true. I want to leave an actual planet to the next generation. But I don't want to tell people what to do. I want them to understand and then want to do what I want them to do. (smiley face to show I know how asinine that sounds.)
  3. "I want to eat hamburgers." Turn off Fox News. No one is trying to take away your fucking hamburgers, steak or meat.
And now, it is - honestly - too late to fix. Just like we cannot un-discover the nuclear bomb. Just like you can't be a "little pregnant". Just like the Berlin Wall won't keep people locked up forever. Climate Change is coming because of the industrial revolution in the 1850s started a process that has built up too much. Humans won't willingly go back to being hunter gathers, or to not using electricity, or not travel. We have to find a way to minimize or stop CO2 emissions now, and adapt to the planet we live on.

It's not easy, but we are a smart and resilient species. God gave, or we developed, a big-ass brain. Let's use it.

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