“This mania for hope is really a kind of sickness because it prevents us from seeing how dire and catastrophic the situation is if we don’t radically reconfigure our relationship to each other and the ecosystem.” - Chris Hedges
That may be a rather gloomy prophetic view that Chris Hedges holds but it’s not hard to see why he comes to this conclusion as we watch the earth’s temperature continuing to climb while mankind continues to pump more and more CO2 in the atmosphere that derives from our use of fossil fuels. The climate change that is being effected by a warmer planet is beginning to make its presence more and more visible. Yet not enough people feel compelled even now to take action to avert a global crisis that many will see on a massive scale as each decade passes.
The climate scientists have constantly warned us that our failure to reduce the CO2 we put into the atmosphere as we consume petrol, coal and natural gas to fuel our autos and power our homes and businesses will result in larger areas of drought, greater destruction from floods, as well as the displacement of millions of people along coastal waterways and rivers as sea water rises from melting polar caps and glaciers. But the pace of this pending global tragedy is simply not at a rate fast enough for people to make it a priority. Unlike hurricanes or tornadoes, which by the way are getting bigger and more frequent as a result of climate change, the steady creep of a warmer planet doesn’t pose the immediate threat to people who are more preoccupied with next week than they are next year or what the world will bring in the next decade
Then too, there is always that elusive hope that Hedges refers to where people too willingly buy into the notion that our free market system and unbridled entrepreneurship will find a solution to this problem before things “really get out of hand.” Such a false sense of redemption is aided by people in high places who need for us to grasp at such straws. People like Exxon-Mobil’s Rex Tillerson who concedes that man-made global warming is a likely reality but that somehow we will all adapt as our eco-system transforms into something that will support less life as water and food supplies dry up and habitable domains become more scarce. It’s a distorted view that suggest somehow we can make new water sources and live with less clean air as population increases go unabated.
Then of course there are the billionaires, Charles and David Koch who along with Exxon-Mobil and other large oil corporations spend millions each year to pay people at conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Heartland Institute to cast doubt on the climate science. Why? Because their industries profit greatly from the extraction of fossil fuels and the ancillary businesses required to bring it to its final form as a source of energy for mankind’s use. If consumers begin to see the threat that these energy sources pose to our planet they may insist that the free markets and even the government start looking for alternative fuels to stave off this threat.
The efforts of people like the Kochs and Tillerson are also made easier simply because too many ordinary people who buy their products are easily convinced that such an imminent danger is “a hoax”. We humans don’t like confrontation and if someone can assure us that the threat is not real, then it becomes easier to overlook the hard evidence that debunks this self-serving view and buy into the don’t worry, be happy circus that Tillerson, the Kochs and their ilk are all too happy to entertain us with. And as much as I hate to say it, it looks like they are winning.
We passed a recent threshold that warns us we are now on the slippery slope of putting the planet on a course that will be near impossible to reverse. Just like it’s hard to fathom such a massive change that occurs at a turtle’s pace, it will also be difficult to alter the direction of a warming planet once it has gained momentum. Imagine a locomotive starting to move down an incline at the exact point its brakes fail. A quick response from a small group of people could prevent it from gaining momentum and actually bringing it to a halt. But there comes a point that once it gains momentum, all people can do then is get out of the way and alert others at the bottom of the hill to prepare for the devastation.
Let the call go out for future generations to prepare for the increased and deadly activity that nature will let loose because of our failure to act when we could have.
An instrument near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii has recorded [earlier this year] a long-awaited climate milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere there has exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement—and probably more than 3 million years of Earth history.
The last time the concentration of Earth’s main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher—at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world.
The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future. SOURCE
Why is this number – 400 ppm of CO2 – important? Because it shows how far over the 350 ppm limit climate scientist say humanity needs to sustain to avoid runaway climate change. This seemed probable back when Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, first presented his argument about global warming to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee back in 1988. At the time the 350 ppm limit had already been exceeded by about 2 ppm. 1982 was the last time climate scientists measured 350 ppm CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere.
But this recent news of a fast approaching global warming locomotive out of control hardly made a ripple in the main stream news. Likely because it didn’t have the flash and appeal that attracts viewers for today’s so-called journalistic sources but I suspect there is some quid pro quo going on here too. The wealthy corporate interests who now own vast media empires don’t want to be seen biting the hand that feeds them.
Not only do they rely on the ad dollars of the fossil fuel industry but they don’t want to see their own investments take a serious hit once enough people in the public gear up for a change in energy policy. One that wants to rapidly convert from oil, coal and gas where stock holders are seeing huge dividends to one of clean, renewable energy that has yet to prove its market value to investors.
Yes. It all comes down to money. This angle has been successfully employed by fossil fuel interests to convince people that their own pocketbooks will suffer if we ignore our loyalty to the cheaper, finite sources of energy. The empirical evidence that shows this will have a negligible effect on household budgets, especially as the new energy sources gain in popularity, is down played or even omitted from those corporate media moguls whose first loyalty is to their revenue sources, not society. They have also failed to inform the public that though there has been an oil drilling boom in this country why then have we seen fuel price increases at the pump.
Don’t want to get the common man and woman thinking too much about the misinformation they’ve become accustomed to. Let’s not dampen that fantasy that Americans can have everything they want.
Perhaps though, mine and Chris Hedges worries are overblown. Perhaps in reality we are being kept from some deep secret that has corporate and government interests working hand in hand with each other to present the world with an energy plan that will save us from our imminent danger. Perhaps there are energy conversion plants currently being built in out of way places that will go online in the foreseeable future and market entrepreneurs have invented a scheme that will indeed stop that momentum of global warming’s effect within a few short months.
Perhaps too the tooth fairy and Santa Claus are real and a pot of gold lies at the end of every rainbow. Perhaps humanitarianism motivates businesses equally with the profit motive. Why should all the climate deniers after all be the only ones who get paid to contrive outlandish notions. Mr. Tillerson! Can I get on your payroll too?
Here’s your future