There Is No Zipless F-ck for the Environment

I’ve noted before that too many people believe there will be a zipless fuck solution for global warming: some sort of technology or relatively painless intervention will be sufficient. It won’t be (boldface mine):

…I think Zaki misses the real issue: halting climate change, as he himself says, requires us to “dramatically alter our way of life.” This is not something most people are willing to do, regardless of empathy. We may feel tremendous empathy for the child in the well or the victim of a tornado, but we still aren’t willing to dramatically alter our way of life to help them. At most we’ll send some money to the Red Cross.

This is something that too many people don’t get. What makes climate change different from other environmental calamities isn’t that it’s bigger or farther away or difficult to see. Those things all contribute to our inaction, but the key difference is that halting climate change requires us to dramatically alter our way of life. All of us. For a very long time….

When I mention this to people, a common reaction is disbelief. You really think people will let the planet burn before they’ll give up their cars? That’s exactly what I think, because it’s happened many times before. Over and over, human civilizations have destroyed their environments because no one was willing to give up their piece of it. They knew exactly what they were doing but still couldn’t stop. They have overfished, overgrazed, overhunted, overmined, and overpolluted. They have literally destroyed their own lifeblood rather than make even modest changes to their lifestyles.

This doesn’t mean we should give up–not at all. But when we can’t even build apartment buildings near existing mass transit in cities, that doesn’t bode well for massively reducing energy use. This is a very hard problem, which is already exacerbated by the fiscal instability of the suburbs. Can we do it? Absolutely. Will we? I’m much less optimistic about that.

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1 Response to There Is No Zipless F-ck for the Environment

  1. Zachary Smith says:

    *** Can we do it? Absolutely. Will we? I’m much less optimistic about that. ***

    Back in 1972 Isaac Asimov wrote a novel titled “The Gods Themselves” where the fictional danger was of a new technology threatening to blow up the Sun. A US Senator straightened out one of the wannabee heroes with these remarks:

    “It is a mistake,” he said, “to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort.”

    Unfortunately Kevin Drum’s analysis is correct. Since The Public has this “don’t inconvenience me” attitude, they go looking for justifications for their foot dragging, and lots of people are very happy to help with that. People like the twit Bret Stephens get paid huge salaries to cast doubt on the issue. They’ll chant “The Science Isn’t Yet Certain”, and it never will be so long as ‘ladies of the night” in the newsrooms and “for sale” old scientists are willing to ‘Deny” for money. The Public gets the message it truly wants, and Exxon and the Koch Brothers continue to get a great returns on their Oil and Gas for the pocket change they spend on their Deniers.

    Back around the turn of the century I started saying that any kid born then wasn’t going to die of old age unless Warming was halted, then reversed. I’ve seen nothing to alter that view. A person prays to be wrong about such things, but at some unknown point in the future we’re going to be blindsided by some Climate mega-adventures. It’ll take an awful lot of luck for the incident(s) to be strong enough to scare the hell out of humanity, but weak enough for us to still make a recovery.

    The odds of all that are not good.

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