Fighting the good fight

Those who have decided that climate change is real have mostly tried to do something about it. That can take many forms. Some just click on the “support a cause” links that inundate our emails and facebook pages once we become visible…THEY know who you are! Some even decide to support the worthwhile efforts of some of these groups – Friends of the Earth, Rocky Mountain Institute, David Suzuki Foundation,, Council of Canadians, Post Carbon Institute, Stop Line 9, Sierra Club (and on and on and on) by volunteering, with actual dollars or both.

It is worth noting that since the new ignoramus in chief of the US was sworn in a lot of these groups have become recipients of renewed interest (and even money) as it becomes more and more apparent that he really is a stupid, ignorant man who thinks other rich folks like himself – especially wall street types and fossil fuel execs – are exactly the sort of folks who know how to save the _______________ (fill in the blanks – economy, education, military entanglements, foreign relations…and, oh yes,  the environment.) No need to even think about climate change because Breitbart News and Alex Jones think it is all a made up conspiracy designed to somehow deprive all Americans of the right to bear arms!

You would think that a man as self-centred and property proud as this idiot would at least be aware that his waterfront property in Florida might just be at risk. Apparently never crosses (what passes for) his mind.

When we were much younger my wife and I were members of the Ontario Non nuclear Network and actively protested about the dangers inherent in generating power by splitting the atom…as Amory Lovins would say “like using a chainsaw to cut butter.” Lovins was a hero to us – not just because he also saw the dangers, but because he had solutions that made better economic sense. He advocated that it would be cheaper – and obviously safer – for Ontario Hydro to help their customers reduce consumption (by assisting in retrofitting inefficient homes, producing more efficient motors and even giving them insulated blankets for their water heaters) rather than spend money on one more nuclear plant.

Now, all these things eventually came to pass…but not before another massive boondoggle was perpetrated on the province in the form of another brand spanking load of debt that citizens of this province are still paying off lo these decades later. “Energy too cheap to measure” my ass! Along the way communities became irradiated at every stage of supply and construction – but some were even give free iodine tablets… don’t bother to thank us folks!

You might think that we would have given up at that point. Obviously those making these big decisions do not think our input on such matters is of any consequence. (As a matter of fact the current gov’t here wants to extend the licence for the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station for another 10 years – which will, of course involve not only extra cost but extra risk.  So it would seem that further investments in conservation still are not high on their radar.) Nevertheless we have persisted. It seemed that the massive climate march we attended in New York city almost two years ago now – which was mirrored in similar huge protests around the world – might have been a catalyst for waking people up both on the streets and in government. Instead we get the orange climate denier in chief and his thugs promoting an agenda of denial and fossil fuel expansion.

We’ve spoken out against pipeline conversions and expansions and participated in protests  while seeing our new federal government – which proclaims itself as being much more environmentally concerned – proceeding with all the projects and climate targets of their conservative predecessors. I have been active with the Post Carbon Institute, which promotes awareness of energy use – making the case that every form of energy has its drawbacks – and recommending reducing energy consumption instead of assuming that society’s energy usage can continue to grow without limits.

And, finally, in the face of runaway climate change and mostly stalled (or even regressing) government efforts, I must admit defeat. And, as I said before, I am at heart an optimist.

Next up…what has changed my mind.

What, me worry?

Deny, deny, deny! Deny the science. Deny the evidence. Deny the causes. Deny the feedback loops. When denial doesn’t work pretend there is great doubt. When a scientist expresses any reservation amplify that into scandal, confusion and even more doubt. Above all, deny.

Deny, deny, deny! Deny the science. Deny the evidence. Deny the causes. Deny the feedback loops. When denial doesn’t work pretend there is great doubt. When a scientist expresses any reservation amplify that into scandal, confusion and even more doubt. Above all, deny.

Of all the insanity surrounding climate change it is this culture of denial that upsets, disappoints and puzzles me the most. We know that the fossil fuel industry has invested billions sowing the seeds of doubt, paying for the usual suspect “scientists” to spew their corporate line. We also know that the very process of real science requires questioning and testing of hypotheses – which, to those unfamiliar with that process, only seems to be a circular argument without end. Even gravity is still a theory…though by this point a very refined, well shaped and polished one. Climate change has only been examined for less than a century, so only 97% of scientists agree:

a) the planet is warming unusually and exponentially  and

b) it is largely human activity – primarily the products of industrial activity (burning of fossil fuels) that is causing this warming.

One would think that such near unanimity – and the dire forecasts the evidence has lead them to eventually come to describe through the IPCC – would have found similar consensus among world governments. And I mean more than the foot-dragging-we-need-business-as-usual-but-hey-we-signed-a-deal-in-paris-so-everything-is-just-fine kind of consensus. (Our prime minister is a perfect example of this. Sign on to the Paris accord but approve new pipelines so we can continue to profit from the sale of arguably the dirtiest oil on earth.)

Why there has been such resistance practically from the get go is inexplicable to me. I can see some back and forth over details and lack of clarity among those who do not differentiate between weather and climate (hey, it’s snowing so the planet can’t be warming) but when it comes right down to it a substantial minority (and I am convinced it is a minority) just do not seem to accept the science. When the idiot in chief of the most powerful country on the planet proclaims that climate change is a Chinese hoax he obviously has a constituency that is receptive.

I read not only the majority scientific reports but also those of the deniers, (obfuscators, nitpickers, pawns IMHO). What I hear from the latter are cherry picked data, out of context quotes and mostly bogus statistics. This is not to say that at the other end of the spectrum there are not those alarmists who are guilty of the same sort of manipulation, but in their defense I would offer this: if they are wrong, and we choose to act to reduce carbon pollution as a result, what is the harm? Whereas if the deniers are wrong and we do nothing as a result of their arguments we could be well and truly fucked.

As I write these words Lake Ontario is reaching record levels (a month before usual) and projections are for another 6 inches yet to come…not business as usual by any means…yet I see no commentary on the news saying this is one more indication that this might be the start of a new “normal” and that it might be related to global phenomena.

For me this has just helped confirm my conclusions about the reality of climate change…while I am sure there are those who will choose to keep their heads firmly in the sand.

Next time….how extreme and imminent is this?