Climate change can’t be stopped or reversed. So why are climate scientists sounding so hopeful?
I am not a scientist. I don’t play one on TV. I follow climate science a tad more than the average person. What I’ve discovered however is a pattern. A pattern that is soaking in denial. This denial comes in the form of fear and hope. Fear is the bedrock of the industrial culture. Hope is the devil’s greatest trick. Today’s climate scientists and experts are scared to death of not only losing their careers but possibly their lives from fanatics. In a culture that doesn’t believe in death but believes deeply in progress, these folks peddle hope because they believe it’s their only option and because they can make some serious money along the way.
On a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, one of worlds foremost climate scientists, Dr. Michael Mann repeated the fear and hope mantra. Maher began by discussing Obama’s climate plan which includes cutting emissions (power plant, mainly coal) by 32% by the year 2030. His first question to Mann was, “Won’t we all be dead by then?” Mann replied, “No, the good news is um, we’re still at the point where we can make the sort of cuts in our carbon emissions that we need to, to make sure we don’t get irreversible dangerous climate change.” Like many climate scientists he spews the venom of hope by informing people that it’s not the midnight hour and we need to get serious about the climate right now. To his credit, Bill Maher played the realist during the interview by pointing out that NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen gave a similar response 10 years earlier. Will there come a day when climate scientists tell us the truth?
Dr. Hansen is a proponent of a revenue-neutral fee and dividend system which imposes a price on carbon that returns the money collected from the fossil fuel industry equally to all legal residents of the United States. According to Hansen, “The solution [climate change] has to be a rising price on carbon and then the real dirty fuels like tar sands would fall on the table very quickly.” Hansen also supports efficient energy use, renewable energy, smart grid technology, generation IV nuclear reactors, and carbon capture and storage. He, like Mann, will discuss anything but the truth of the matter. Climate change has no solution. The change that is occurring and the abrupt change that is our future is already baked into the cake.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 350.org founder Bill McKibben, or 350.org board of directors and best selling author, Naomi Klein, the story of false hope remains the same. Never question the story we tell ourselves about ourselves and continue to negotiate with the non-negotiable. Climate Scientist, Dr. Katherine Hayhoe also sings the praises of renewable energy since the U.S. military (considered by many to be the largest consumer of petroleum in the world) is pursuing such an endeavor. It’s the same story that Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson tells. He is a renewable advocate as well. Hayhoe and Jacobson, like all the aforementioned, believe in a human centric narrative and more importantly, a civilized narrative. They don’t want to abandon the machine, just refine it. This narrative is our predicament yet we continue to believe that it is a solution to the very problems it creates. Read that again and one can begin to see the tough spot we are truly in.
When an individual’s livelihood, reputation and self-esteem depend upon the institution … the truth then becomes secondary. What is the truth you may ask? I suggest to find out you take a few hours and sit in your local mall. Find a seat on a bench and just observe the masses. After about an hour start to ponder some of these questions: Why are people at the mall? What are they buying? Where do these items come from? How are they manufactured? Where do these products go after we dispose of them? What impact do these products have on people, the planet and the climate. You don’t have to be a climate scientist or an expert in the field to see what is happening. We live in a global industrial economy that is devouring the world and one of the most severe consequences is abrupt climate change. How do we respond? By digging ourselves in deeper.
Today the folks we turn to when we need important and timely information about climate consequences are nothing more than frightened pawns or opportunists who are swimming in institutional rhetoric. Some have of them are making a pretty decent living spinning our false narrative. These men and women have been attacked and even propped up by the status quo. Some have sold their souls to the corporation. Some believe deeply in the narrative called hope. None of them seem willing to tell us what’s actually happening. We are tired of cowards. We are tired of people peddling bullshit. We want honesty and integrity. We can handle the truth. We have no choice.
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