After reading Mark Lynas’ piece in The Guardian, I’m convinced. The real danger of climate change isn’t the predictions of rising oceans, wildfire, or extreme weather. It is the people and the politicizing of climate change. The so-called environmentalism has morphed into something that would make John Muir spin in his grave.
A lot of snark gets in the way of what should be a straightforward discussion about limiting harm to the planet. Instead, eco-zealots (or the eco-Malthusian left as Lynas brilliantly observed) fire back with terms like deniers in an attempt to debase skeptics. Greenpeace adds to the vitriol by permanently damaging Peru’s Nazca Lines. To be fair, the conservatives fuel the fire too with the likes of the ridiculous Senator James Inhofe.
What we don’t have is a dialogue. And we also have an issue so mired in political ideologies and social issues that you have to even wonder if it’s about climate change and its consequences at all.
Acting Like Lemmings
Then, there is the short-sightedness of some people. If rising oceans and coastal flooding are in our future, why are we failing to plan for it? Instead, research by the University of Southampton suggest that over 600 million people will be affected by it by 2100. The researchers projected costs of $100,000 billion per year by then.
I’m reminded of of joke my husband told me. A man lived in a place that experienced a raging flood. He sought shelter on the top of his house. A helicopter flew by and asked him if he needed any help. He said, “No, God will take care of me.” A second helicopter came by, and again, the man declined. Finally, the flood waters swept him away and killed him. At the Pearly Gates, the man lamented to God, “I needed you, but you let me down. Why?” “Let you down?” God asked. “I sent two helicopters to save you.”
That’s how I see the situation where people rebuild in flood-prone areas like the Mississippi River Valley that flooded in 1993 or after Hurricane Katrina. You can also question the wisdom of rebuilding in areas prone to wildfires or going back to a mobile home after a tornado when you live in Tornado Alley. It’s like some got the memo, but ignore it. The popular media bombards us with stories
and misinformation about extreme weather, yet so many don’t listen.
What Will the Future Bring?
Like Lynas warns, we need to drop the politics that are fueling political debate rather than solving problems. I would add social issues to the mix too because it’s misleading a lot of innocent people. Who pays when you implement a carbon tax? Who pays when regulate businesses who pass the costs to consumers? Who pays when substitute expensive and imperfect renewable energy sources for cheaper ones that may include nuclear?
The people who are hurt the most are the poor, the ones that the eco-zealots claim to look out for when the social issues get wrapped up with climate change. Until we all can have a mature, non-emotional discussion, we’ll just have to see which of the consequences comes true first and what harm it will bring to humankind. I remain skeptical about any consensus or solutions to forgo any of them.