I found this in a Calvin and Hobbes book from 1989. Twenty years later, we don't have Calivin's excuse of ignorance. If we continue to fail to act, our children will certainly look back and ask with incredulity, "why didn't you do something about climate change back when you could have? It's not like you didn't know." Because at some point, it will be too late.
Scientific American, Nature and science magazines around the world recently polled their readers about attitudes about science.
Surprisingly and despite the fossil-fuel industries efforts to cast doubt on the facts around climate change, among those respondents who have changed their opinions in the past
year, three times more said they are more certain
than less certain that
humans are changing the climate.
In a Scientific American podcast discussion, the editors theorized that those people who tend to follow the facts have become more convinced of human-caused global warming
as they read more about it.
They pointed out that ironically, the "climategate" hacked email story touted by climate deniers may have caused some readers to read up on the issue. As they learned more about the actual science, they may have become increasingly certain that humans are impacting the climate.Listen to Science Talk discussionRead Poll Results
Manufactured "Climategate" disproved by investigators
Carly Fiorina has come out in favor of prop 23, the attempt by Texas oil companies to buy their way into abolishing California's global-warming law with a deceptive bill. This shows she is siding with big oil against California business interests. The tech industry and Silicon Valley, as well as Republican Governer Schwarzenegger, were strongly in favor of AB32, the measure that prop 23 aims to overturn. California R&D benefits from clean energy innovation, but apparently Fiorina is benefits from associating with right-wing extremists and out-of-state energy corporations.
This shouldn't be a surprise after Fiorina's TV ad ridiculing Barbara Boxer for expressing concern about the security risks of climate change. Watch here:
There is no reason climate change should be a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s a universal problem. And there are as many traditionally conservative values at stake as liberal ones. (If you are concerned about national security, long-term economic stability and conserving life, you should be an activist when it comes to climate policy.)
According to Gallup polls, ten years ago, Republicans and Democrats were pretty close when it came to belief in the seriousness of the problem. However over the past decade, despite greater scientific evidence, doubt has increased – largely due to increasing skepticism among older Republicans.
The growing skeptic demographic is the same one that listens to right-wing talk radio, mostly older, male and conservative. Is this a conincidence? The main three, who are all paid by TX-based Clear Channel (Rush makes $20M/year), are as follows:
- Sean Hannity -- insists global warming is a hoax.
- Glenn Beck -- has suggested that climate scientists should commit suicide and compared Al Gore to Adolf Hilter
- Rush Limbaugh -- constantly insists there’s no reason to believe in global warming, suggested that environmentalists blew up the BP oil rig, said that that the oil spilling into the gulf “is as natural as the ocean water” and argues that getting BP to pay for their mess amounts to “organized crime in the white house”
Why have conservative influencers gone so far out of their way to cast doubt on climate change science? Republicans have been more apt to side with business interests, and while emerging and tech businesses could benefit from clean energy innovation, big business has a lot to lose. Right-wing influencers seem to be falling in line with these big-business interests.
There is money to be made in denial. Six of the twelve largest companies in the world are fossil-fuel providers. Exxon has spent at least $25M funding climate change denial groups, and continues to fund PR and stunts like the subsequently disproved “Climategate” non-scandal. The energy industry has spent $2.9 Billion since 2000 on 2,300 lobbyists to sway politicians, elections and regulators.
You get what you pay for, in this case, doubt and inaction. However, the long-term trend should be that truth wins out. For instance, no one now believes that smoking cigarettes is a healthy activity. The question is whether we have the luxury of time.
Exxon funding of denial
I do love the direct democracy element of the California initiative system, but it has some seriously wacky consequences. For one thing, it allows people with deep pockets to fund their own pet initiatives.
This year the wackiness level has been taken up a notch with two Texas oil companies, Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro Corporation, funding the petition drive to get Prop 23 on the ballot for November. Called the “California Jobs Initiative,” it would suspend (until unemployment falls below 5.5%) a 2006 law AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, that requires that greenhouse emission levels in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.
The irony here is that clean energy innovation and increased efficiency spurred by AB 32 will CREATE jobs. Conversely, not addressing climate change will have devastating impacts on the California economy. This proposition is exactly the opposite of what it purports to be. It is really the “Anti-California Jobs Initiative”.
Really -- who do you believe is more invested in creating California jobs?
On one side: Texas oil companies
On the other side: Actual employers in California
The government site, climatechange.ca.gov, says, “AB 32 enjoys the strong support of a diverse and formidable alliance of California’s economic powerhouses including Google, Gap Inc., eBay, Bloom Energy, E2, Small Business California, Yahoo!, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy, Cleantech, California Ski Industry Association, and much more.”
Sources: About Prop 23; AB 32 Myths
I’ve lived through some bubbles. I joined an internet
startup in 1999 that had just got generous funding based on a business model
that quickly turned out to be unworkable.
I bought a house in California for
dramatically more than it might have cost in a less heated market at a time
when lots of people were getting loans that they couldn’t repay and would
inevitably fail. I know something about bubbles.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that the biggest, fattest
bubble I’ve been living in is yet to burst.
Definition of a Bubble: Temporary condition (i.e., the 90s
for the internet bubble, the 00s for the housing bubble, and life since the
industrial revolution for the environmental bubble) caused by unjustified speculation
in a commodity to a level that bears no relation to its real worth or potential
(i.e., internet businesses that couldn’t make money, housing prices inflated by
buyers who couldn’t afford them, and a lifestyle based on fossil fuels that are
not renewable and that could alter the livability of the planet). Bubbles
inevitably fail (burst), wiping out the savings of unsophisticated or
unsuspecting investors (i.e., a job, a house, the world as we know it).
In all these cases, there were people who denied there was a
bubble, people who took advantage of the bubble, and people who warned about
the risks and tried to head off the bubble’s growth.
Bubble deniers: This seems to be due to a fundamental lack
of imagination. We project the future based on what we know of the past so, for
instance, in the early days of the internet when people were becoming wildly wealthy
off of the flimsiest internet ideas, it felt like it would always be thus. The
old rules of business no longer applied. Real estate bubble believers saw
property values go up, up and up so it felt like real estate would always be
the best of investments. Climate change deniers can point to the fact that the
earth has always been a pretty darn nice place to live for humankind and
conclude that therefore it always will be.
Bubble profiteers: Smart and ruthless people can make a killing
in a bubble. Hedge funds and others saw that real estate was overvalued and bet
against those loans being repaid, even contributing to the bubble to increase
their own profits. Oil companies are the winners of the environmental bubble,
becoming the most profitable businesses ever to exist and cynically working to
discredit those who suggest we should change our ways.
Bubble scientists: These are the people who crunch the
numbers and see that they don’t add up. These were the people that warned that
business rules still apply even if you sell online, that people without jobs
can’t afford to buy expensive houses, and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that
traps heat and will create a hotter and less predictable planet to live on.
The good news is that bubbles don’t always burst all at
once. It is possible to catch and correct the error of our ways and reduce the consequences
of a bursting bubble. The internet company I joined had a good technology and
smart people and managed to create an alternate business model that still
flourishes today. The house I bought was affordable enough and in a desirable
area with limited supply so that while it went down in value, it didn’t go down
more than I paid for it.
I’m not yet sure what will happen to the environmental
bubble we live in now. Perhaps if enough people have enough imagination to see
past the profiteers and demand real political change, we can yet head off the
very worst case scenarios.
I'm hoping my luck holds up.
Like a junkie looking for a vein, we are taking increasing risks to meet our demand for ever more oil. We've used up the oil that's easy to reach and now with the BP spill, we see the environmental devastation that results from the combination of insufficient regulation, deep water drilling and inadequate protections and planning.
Like an addict, we are ignoring the long-term consequences of our actions. We are unable to take responsibility for the impact of our reliance on fossil fuels. We are acting selfishly and without regard to impact on other living things. We are ill-serving our children. We are failing as stewards of the earth.
In short, we're in need of a recovery program.
- admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion -- I need my car!
- recognizing a greater power that can give strength -- I must act even though the problem is huge.
- examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced
member) -- Wow, look at what scientists show that we've been doing to the planet since the Industrial Revolution.
- making amends for these errors -- I need to take political action to address this.
- learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior -- I need to reduce my carbon footprint.
- helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions. -- I need to get the word out.