This morning while reading the newspaper, I ran across a letter to the editor that caught my attention. It was from Evelyn Scott in Draper, talking about her conservative ideology informs her personal approach to addressing climate change and her views on the Green New Deal. She believes that climate change is a wholly natural phenomenon, saying:
My problem with the “global warming” radicals, which turned to “climate change” when it was discovered that data was being manipulated in predicting global warming, is the radicals, who would destroy our way of life and prosperity.
After claiming that Republicans, too, care about climate change and would address it in a manner that saves jobs in a responsible manner, she continues:
Rhetoric around this issue has become so inflamed, and the universities are indoctrinating our young people so much, that they don’t listen to any other option but “the sky is falling” one.
“Be reasonable about climate change,” Letter, Deseret News (April 3, 2019), available athttps://www.deseretnews.com/article/900063663/letter-be-reasonable-about-climate-change.html.
I’m not going to delve into the science of climate change, other than to say that 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that, although the climate does naturally heat and cool over time, human activity is significantly speeding up the process of heating up our atmosphere.
I’m also not going to denigrate Evelyn’s efforts to conserve energy and resources in her own way to improve our air and surroundings. Instead, I applaud that she is doing more that most of the population, even if for slightly different reasons than I do. Just like I applaud Mitt Romney for public expressing his belief in climate change, even though I’m of the firm belief that was just the robot speaking after calculating it was publicly acceptable to do so.
No, the things that caught my attention were:
- Calling climate change believers “radicals,”
- Claiming that such radicals want to “destroy our way of life and prosperity,” and
- Labeling the growing sense of urgency among these “radicals” as “indoctrination” and a “the sky is falling” mentality.
This was basically the same message shared by the wonderful senior senator from Utah, Senator Mike Lee, last week during a widely panned floor speech in which he unsuccessfully attempted to paint the Green New Deal as a joke. The actual jokes were the hyperbolic manner in which he read the aims of the proposal and his proposed solution of having more babies, waiting for future generations to deal with the problem instead.
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If Republicans have finally moved on from fossil-fuel industry encouraged climate change denial, then what does that mean? How serious of a problem is this climate change? Is it natural or is the sky falling? And if the sky is indeed falling, how should we react? What should we be expected to do, or not do, both individually and as a society?
I personally am of the opinion that the sky is falling. It’s been falling for a while now. It’s falling faster and the longer we don’t try to reverse it, the harder and more expensive it will be to do so. Both the special report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Fourth National Climate Assessment from our very own government paint a very bleak picture for the future of our society if nothing is done to rein in carbon emissions. The future is still bleak EVEN IF we start cutting back emissions. Only an extremely drastic change in our societies, economies, and lifestyles will give us any chance of maintaining a habitable planet.
The timeframe does not allow for another generation to pass, hoping that our children will be wiser than their forebears. According to the IPCC’s Special Report, the planet will have to REDUCE — not just stop growing — emissions by 45% by 2030, based on 2010 emission levels. Based on the trends of emissions growth, taking into account the growing energy-hungry economies of China and India, it’s going to be near impossible to reverse these trend. And this was even before the United States signaled its intent to leave the Paris Agreement. Thanks, Trump.
2030. I’m turning 30 this year. That means that we need to drastically reduce emissions by dramatically changing our lifestyles by the time I’m 41.
Then there is 2040. This is the year in which many of the entries in the parade of horribles will be upon us. Except this isn’t a logical fallacy, or even a parade of people wearing costumes. It is one ecological disaster after another after another.
We are already seeing increasing droughts and wildfires, stronger storms, shifting weather patterns, and the melting of the polar and arctic ice caps. By the time I’m 51, we’ll be seeing food shortages across the globe, the disappearance of the planet’s coral reefs, sea levels overtaking coastal cities, and mass global migration of climate refugees.
It is estimated that the damage caused by doing nothing to stymie the rising specter of climate change will cost the global economy $54 – $69 TRILLION.
This is only 21 years away. I’ve lived longer than 21 years and believe you me, it feels like that went by pretty fast. It’s going to be here before we know it. And we’re complaining about wanting to keep a semblance of our current lifestyles.
“Public transit is too inconvenient.”
“China’s not doing anything. They want coal, let’s send it to them.”
“The Green New Deal would cost too much and destroy our economy.”
“I like to eat my hamburgers. You can’t take away our farting cows!”
“It’s not my fault. It’s the oil refineries over there!”
“This is a problem of polluting businesses. Let them take the hit.”
“This is a problem that depends on individual choice. Let’s incentivize the public to make some changes and hope for the best.”
“This is Congress’ problem. They just can’t do anything.”
“My actions alone won’t make any difference.”
“It’s too late. There is no hope.”
This is the most complex and pressing issue our species has ever faced. The effects are only going to grow more severe. It’s only going to get more expensive to turn this ship around, and it’s going to require an even more drastic pivot the longer we wait. It’s going to take effort and sacrifice on the part of every single individual, community, city, state, and nation — humanity working collectively and individually to save our home.
Do you think the Green New Deal is too extreme? Then propose another plan that achieves the necessary results in the necessary amount of time. Do you like meat too much (like me) to completely give it up? Then eat less. Do you think public transit is inconvenient? Then carpool. Think it’s the oil refineries fault? Then stop using so much oil so there won’t be as much demand.
We can’t wait anymore. The sky is falling.