In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein points out that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, those running the world now embrace the idea that unbridled, global, consumerist, free-market capitalism is the only choice that we have. Further, they believe that competition should prevail over cooperation and government regulation should be reduced in favor of market forces. But the reality of Climate Change is that just the opposite is true: Capitalism as it now exists cannot be allowed to continue, consumerism must be reduced and we need unprecedented new levels of cooperation and regulation. This huge conflict in ideologies has resulted in the widespread denial of Climate Change more than honest examination of the science.
The scientific precept, Occam’s Razor states that “The simplest explanation is likely to be the correct one”.
The basic facts of Climate Change are quite simple and plausible. It is not extravagant to claim that dramatically increasing the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere slightly increases the Earth’s tendency to hold on to solar warmth. Nor is it extreme to claim that melting vast areas of arctic permafrost will further release CO2 and methane (another greenhouse gas). It is an accepted matter of physics that dark land and sea water absorb more solar warmth than white snow and ice. These are simple and plausible claims.
What IS wildly extravagant and implausible is to claim that thousands of climate scientists, lab assistants and grad students the world over are carrying out a huge hoax – especially when faithfully acting on that hoax would starve the world economy of its fossil fuel life blood. Now THAT is far-out claim! But it’s not too far-out to be made by some of the global elite for whom the end of economic growth is fully unacceptable. Even those elites who are not in denial of Climate Change are seemingly unable to bring about the dramatic, sweeping changes necessary because again, starving the world economy is NOT an option.
(Note: See the section on Energy to understand the difficulty in getting off of fossil fuels. See the section on Human Consciousness to understand denial, delusion and sociopathic behavior that our “leaders” are capable of.)
- Climate Change poses a far greater threat than terrorism (on which we’ve spent a couple trillion dollars resulting in more terrorists than we started with….) This is THE moral issue of our time and demands a worldwide level of commitment and response on par with the US response upon entering World War II. We in the rich nations need a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. This means huge, dramatic change starting immediately.
- Even if Climate Change were a hoax, we would still need to rapidly reduce our fossil fuel use because we’re going to be running out of them over the next several decades (as explored in the section on Energy.)
- Through Carbon Taxing or the setting of a tradable Personal Carbon Cap, give people a dramatic incentive to burn fewer fossil fuels and demand low-carbon technologies. I favor the “Fee and Dividend” approach where fossil fuels are taxed at the well, the mine and the port of entry and then the revenue is immediately given back to the people in equal shares. (More on this in the section, Market Forces, True Costs and Environmental Tax Reform.)
- Immediately halt all road building and suburban sprawl development. Suburbia has arguably been the worst misallocation of resources in human history and it should stop now.
- Immediately begin construction of a national passenger rail system modeled after the far superior systems of Europe and Asia. (Or at least get AMTRAK to run on time at consistent 80 MPH speeds.) (In the last ten years, China has built 19,000 miles of high speed passenger rail. It’s unfortunate to think that being “free and democratic” means that we can’t get stuff done.)
- Immediately end all subsidies for the petroleum and coal industries.
- Immediately halt all shale oil & gas fracking, tar sands development and deep water oil exploration. Meaningfully addressing Climate Change would render such messier types of oil and gas unnecessary because our use of fossil fuels would be declining faster than the background depletion of our existing, older oil & gas wells.
- Immediately implement large subsidies for renewable energy industries.
- Require that most new buildings be Zero Net Energy buildings.
- Renovate most existing buildings to achieve substantial energy efficiency improvement. (A huge job creator!)
- Establish an ambitious world-wide program to restore forest ecosystems and to establish forests in desert locations. This would not just sequester carbon, but also further cool the planet through increased cloud cover resulting from evapotranspiration of the plant life. (A huge job creator!)
- Encourage widespread adoption of organic farming practices. This would sequester vast amounts of carbon in the healthier agricultural soils, create many jobs and increase food security.
Again, even if Climate Change WERE a hoax, we STILL need to get off of fossil fuels because they’re gonna run out anyway. So, let’s get on with it!