Sunday, October 17, 2021

Climate Change Frustrations

Yosemite. I used this picture because it is beautiful, even though it is used to illustrate "16 fires in Yosemite caused by lighting strikes this year".

I guess I am resigned to climate change. I used to be frustrated people wouldn't take it more seriously, than frustrated people aren't even preparing for it.

Then I remembered what my great friend - and the smartest guy I know, Steve.C, said once. "Tell me how someone gets paid, and I'll tell you what motivates them." No one pays people to fight for climate change. Now some people still do fight for this; those that are more motivated by public good than private compensation. But they are rare and usually young with very little power. And they all quickly learn it is a useless battle.

For most of us, the trade off between climate change and not changing lifestyle is an easy choice for lifestyle. We (and I include myself) would rather drive, fly and have access to cheap energy rather than not travel, not use the luxury of a private car and pay more. We all might be willing to make a trade off for better climate, but those easy options are rare.

If you understand that less than 0.8% of the world's people own more than 68% of the world's wealth, you realize that the incentives of those that are rich, overwhelm the incentives of the bottom 68%. AND, the poorest 68% would easily trade more pollution for a higher standing of living.

In China, America and, to a lesser extent, other wealthy countries, every survey finds that legislatures do not respond to constituents, they respond to donors and high worth individuals. And these people have less reason to support climate change than the rest of us. They have built fortunes on energy extraction or cheap labor and cheap energy.

The long term consequences to everyone else and the planet are just not important to them. They, and the other rich people of the world (including nearly all of the "western world") will learn to live with climate change. As oceans rise, they will move to higher land. As climate disaster get worse, they will build safer communities ANd move to safer land.

And so yes, I guess I am resigned. And. like most  of the rich (which we are not), I am old. This will happen outside of my lifetime. But it's getting closer. Remember 20 years ago we were looking at climate impacts in 2100s, over a 100 years away. Ten years ago, the best guess for climate impacts was 2075. Now the outlook is 2050 for the worst and 2035 for significant effects. And yet the needle on emissions hasn't slowed its growth trajectory.

almost nothing has change

The US government keeps insuring beachfront property for nothing. Insurance against wildfires will soon be subsidized. Rather than focussing on leaving super low elevation areas, we are building more and picking up the insurance. Any policies to overturn this staggering mistake were meant with howls from nearly every East Coast and Gulf Coast state;  now the West only because the West Coast isn't nearly as low and protected by seaside cliffs for the great majority of their coastlines - they fight for fire insurance.

If we, the richest country in the world, can't care, how can others?


  1. Biden's plan for offshore turbines to be built along many/most coastal states might help if he can get done.

  2. I agree. His plan has some great climate ideas. But they can't get them passed in the Senate, where corporate money rules manchin and Senima. I hope he somehow gets this passed. It will make me feel so much better.


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