To understand just how ridiculous our current species-wide predicament is, think of it like this: the solution to our whole problem can be summarized in just four words – STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS.
This is an important thing to point out because what stands between near certainty for a planetary catastrophe is not unknown to us. It’s not unachievable. There is NO mystery. There are many things that would be unknowable, or unfixable, like if we knew that we were going to be hit by a gamma ray buster. What could we do to protect ourselves or stop the burster from hitting us? Nothing. That would be curtains for most, if not all, life on Earth. If we came to know that the planet was in the path of a gamma ray burster, you could just leave your lights on all the time, drive your car around in circles, wasting gas, and not recycle to your heart’s content because it wouldn’t change a thing. Likewise, if we knew that a few supervolcanos on our planet were definitely going to erupt simultaneously, well, again, we’d be toast. It would be time to break out the naughty drugs and drink yourself into oblivion. You could do whatever you secretly always wanted to do, no matter how outrageous, because there is no fallback position from some things, which we cannot defend against or stop from happening.
Indeed, the laws of physics are not going to be changeable for humans. Basic tenets of science will hold true no matter how much we don’t like them. Climate change included. Yes, the climate changes. It always has and it always will. The problem with the climate change now is that it’s not a natural event. It’s happening way, way too fast and nothing and no one can (naturally) adapt or evolve to something that is happening in the span of only 150 years (since we began to burn fossil fuels in the 1800’s). Humans are causing the planet to heat up, and humans can stop doing it. It’s those four words again: STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS. What stands between life and death for our species (along with all the other species we haven’t already driven into extinction) is NOT unknowable. It does not defy the laws of physics. We know what to do, we have other ways to supply energy to live just like we do now.
Maybe think of it like this…if we knew that there were space aliens that were really bad and evil and wanted to destroy us (even more than we want to destroy ourselves) and we, as a planet, were told that for one week, we had to stop using all electricity and all fossil fuel energies because, for example, the heat signal, or something like that, left a clear impression that we were here (again, for the mean space aliens to wipe us out) and they would be turning their space telescope towards us at that time. What do you think would happen? Easy. We, as a planet, would make it damn clear to everyone else that this is what was happening and we had to, all together, stop using fossil fuels. We would join together, police each other, and make sure that nothing got turned on or used. It’s do-able. We would not be violating any law of nature. There is nothing standing in the way of us (all) doing what is necessary to save ourselves.
The only thing that stands between our species defying the astronomical (but not impossible) odds of long term survival, at this point in our evolution, is ourselves. We are wiping ourselves out, knowingly. Our own governments, our own industries, and crooks like ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers care less what happens to the natural world. How many of “them” are there, compared to how many there are of “us?” I’d say the numbers are very much in our favor, and yet nothing changes. Well, it does change. For the worse. We burn more fossil fuels, even though we know how to use renewable energies. We pollute and allow them to pollute, even though we know we’re just poisoning ourselves.
I’ve been trying to find funding so that I can keep writing this blog, which I pay for by myself. Guess what? There is no funding, anywhere, for people like me who want to get the word out and change the way we humans look at this problem. Conversely, if you want to write about, or promote the usage of, fossil fuels, there is plenty of money. There’s even money out there for things like dreaming up a better way to gather aborted oranges (I’m not even kidding). Hell, you can get paid to just troll about on the Internet and throw out random inane comments to disparage climate change. Any chimp with an Internet connection can cash in, depending on how good they are at it, on the PR blitzkrieg by the fossil fuel industry which is, of course, totally working. You can get paid by trade associations, right wing think tanks, directly by oil and gas “lobbying” arms, Donor’s Trust, etc. The long, winding list is actually more destructive to the work of real scientists than anything the tar sands can spit out because no actual large-scale effort to start healing the environment can even begin until the public realizes what dire straits they’re in.
Sure, if you’re a huge multimillion dollar non-profit (“Big Green”) and your proposal writing team is locked in to the funding game, you can get a grant to keep doing what you’re doing until the end of time, which is probably going to be sooner than later. If you want to study and do research about why people think the way they do (that climate change isn’t a real problem) there’s money for that, too. How about a poll? No problem. Do you want to go to conferences and talk about why people don’t believe climate change is real? Lots of conferences, which will generate lots of papers and yada yada yada. There are think tanks, government departments, foundations, institutes, and many, many other bloated behemoths which will tell you, in excruciating detail, why nobody believes there’s a problem. Entire buildings are filled to the brim with reports and tax returns of such organizations that just want to examine, without doing much about it, why the public is indifferent to climate change. As a result, nothing actually gets done. I tried to put together a list once. It was so depressing that I had to stop for my own mental health and fear that I was going to have high blood pressure as a result of what I was seeing.
So, to summarize, we have a problem (climate change), we have the solutions (stop burning fossil fuels and switch to renewables) and the membrane, or gap, or roadblock, to saving ourselves is not “physical.” It’s not that we don’t know what to do. The general public, which has to shove policy in that direction, just doesn’t collectively give much of a damn. They’re not having any of it because they are being lied to and deceived by powerful organizations which don’t want anything to change. If it were a nifty graphic, it would look like this:
Do you remember in the movie “Independence Day” when they finally figured out how to destroy the evil alien ships, and they got the message out across the world so the problem could be solved by sending Morse code or something by telegraph?
Okay, that’s not a photo from the movie, but you get the picture. Anyway, if people who truly want to solve the problem of climate change don’t help people like me get the word out, nothing is going to change.
Science funding and scientists are going to keep being attacked by corrupt politicians, which is, in turn, driving fear and dread into their work. They (the scientists) perceive that the general public doesn’t think climate change is a problem, plus they know they’ll be attacked by the right wing, so they tend to underemphasize the threat, consciously or unconsciously. Just doing more research about why people don’t know there’s even a problem solves nothing. If people don’t know what to do to actually solve the problem by now, here it is. Otherwise, just circling the wagons around why nothing is happening is absurd, almost funny, actually. While all this studying is going on, the right-wing busily concocts new twists and spins to further confuse the public, who have no idea what the real scientists are doing or thinking because, let’s be honest, how many people take hours out of their day to read NASA’s climate blog, or the White House’ s latest climate action plan? I do, or did, but I’m fed up with the whole thing which is why I’m writing less and less.
Like telegraph operators from yesteryear, the correct information needs to be sent out en masse so that we can all (quickly) get ourselves on the same proverbial page before it’s too late. Will Smith couldn’t do it alone in the movies, and, in real life, neither can I.