July 30, 2021 Editor

Hot planet summer

photo above: trofire.com

WN: All sobering.


OPINION: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH — During a summer of record-breaking heat waves, hideous wildfires and brutal droughts, as seas rise, storms intensify and glaciers vanish, President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing the boldest climate measures Washington has ever seen.

They’re trying to pass a clean electricity standard to phase out fossil-fueled power, electric vehicle incentives to start phasing out fossil-fueled transportation, and as much as $1 trillion worth of other carbon-cutting green stuff.

The thing is, even if they succeed, climate change will get worse.

This is the ugly political reality of climate science: The earth is going to keep getting hotter for a while no matter what. Even if the United States accelerated its transition to zero-emissions energy at a pace frantic enough to satisfy Greta Thunberg, even if every other nation followed suit, greenhouse gases would keep accumulating in the atmosphere, and even more extreme weather events would keep discombobulating our civilization. Future warming is literally baked in.

Food and agriculture also create one-third of our emissions — think of 1 billion methane-burping cattle, or 25 million acres of carbon-rich forest that get cleared every year to make room for them — and humanity still has to eat.

It’s a bummer, and it helps explain the allure of climate denialism that ignores the science, as well as climate doomism that proclaims nothing matters because we’re all inevitably screwed. Politically, it’s hard enough to sell policies when the benefits aren’t visible right away. It’s almost impossible to sell policies when the counterfactual benefits will never be visible, unless you think future Arizonans sweltering in 125-degree heat will be grateful they aren’t even hotter.

This is surely why Biden sells his climate policies as jobs policies, even though they really aren’t.

It’s also why climate activists often argue that we’ve only got nine years to act to avoid an apocalypse, really another marketing ploy. Climate action isn’t a simple pass-fail test with a deadline. It’s a complicated long-haul struggle to limit the damage over time.

The truth is, the storm-crushed Bahamas and fire-obliterated Paradise, Calif., already had apocalypses. More apocalypses are coming. The goal should be to reduce the number of future apocalypses, and hopefully make them marginally less apocalyptic. That is a crucial goal, and the climate investments in the bipartisan infrastructure bill — along with the even more ambitious New New New Deal-style $3.5 trillion Democratic reconciliation bill — would be America’s most significant effort to help achieve it.

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.