Posted by: ericgrimsrud | September 21, 2015

Two Proofs that the Deniers have achieved their goal

We should not delude ourselves – the Deniers of man-caused global warming have, in deed, achieved their goals and I will provide two proofs of this in this post.  But first, we must recognized what has been and still is their goal.  Contrary to common belief, their goal has not been to get the public and their elected officials to actually believe that fossil fuel combustion would have no effect of the Earth’s temperature  –  as they have repeatedly claimed.  Also, their goal has not been to get the public to believe that our grand kids will be OK if we continue to burn fossil fuels  –   as they have also claimed.  Their goal has also not been to get the public to believe that the alternate, renewable means of energy production would not work –  as they have repeatedly claimed.  No, none of these statements describe their real goals because they have known for years, just as I have, that all of those statements are false and eventually would be found to be so. That is, the Deniers never expected any of those statements to be believed in the long run by the general public.

OK, so what has been the goal of the Deniers?  It is simply this: to create conditions and attitudes that would promote the continued use of fossil fuels for as long as possible. That’s it. The opportunity that the Deniers want to take advantage of is the simple fact is that our planet contains enormous quantities of fossil fuels and there are still countless fortunes yet to be made by using them.  Thus, their financial investments in those reserves are still enormous.  The Deniers therefore hope that the world will continue to take its chances on the continued use of fossil fuels if they can continue to create a sufficiently high level of confusion, doubt and distrust concerning the science involved. They have bet that these efforts, along with the ever-present mental laziness and greed inherent in human beings, will continue to do the job. This strategy has worked exceedingly well, to date, and shows every sign of succeeding into the future.

So why do I say that the Deniers have achieved their goal? There are two very clear facts that provide proof of their unqualified success. The first proof concerns the only score card that matters – the level of carbon dioxide in our background atmosphere.  That number is now slightly more than 400 parts per million (ppm) CO2.  Prior to the Industrial Age beginning in the mid 1800’s, that number was 280 ppm and had never exceeded 300 ppm during the previous three million years.  In the first decades of the Industrial Age that number began to increase at a rate between 0 and 1 ppm per year.  Throughout the 1900’s,  it was increasing at a rate between 1 and 2 ppm per year.  Today, it is increasing at a rate between 2 and 3 ppm per year. This number is the best means we have for monitoring how mankind is doing with respect to controlling its CO2 emissions and from them, it is clear that mankind is in no way getting better at controlling them – in spite of all the hype to the contrary provided by our fossil fuel industries. Things are getting worse and emissions are now grossly out of control with no signs of improvement.  It should also be noted that once there, the new elevated level of CO2 will remain in the atmosphere for several centuries continuing to heat the Earth well beyond natural levels.

The second proof that the Deniers have achieved their goal is sorry state of a critically important piece of legislation that simply must be passed if the problem of climate change is ever to be seriously addressed. That needed legislation is known as a Carbon Tax, or a fee charged to fossil fuel producers and users for the use of our atmosphere as a waste disposal dump for CO2.  As we now know, the costs of addressing the problems caused by the excess carbon in our atmosphere will be somewhere between enormous and astronomical –  depending on when we finally halt those emissions. And why should future generations, only, be asked to pay those costs?  Shouldn’t today’s users of fossil fuels make that payment right now – as they choose to burn fossil fuels?  In spite of the exceedingly clear and fair logic behind a Carbon Tax idea, it has gotten nowhere, to date, in Washington DC and this simple fact also provides proof that Deniers of man-caused global warming have achieved their goal. Until Carbon Taxes are applied around the world, there will be no level playing field for the other means of energy production and those based on fossil fuel combustion will continue to have its unfair cost advantage.  If an appropriately stiff and steadily increasing Carbon Tax is finally implemented, the Deniers know that the fossil fuel industries will be put out of business within in a couple of decades. Thus, the absence of a Carbon Tax today continues to ensure a bright financial future for the fossil fuel industries. As long as they provide (seemingly) cheap forms of energy, why would their use ever be discontinued?

Thus, our planet races ever faster today towards its own destruction. Perhaps the best hope for corrective action in the future might be the occurrence of some catastrophic event clearly linked to climate change – such as the complete and continuous flooding of some of the world’s largest coastal cities. When that occurs, perhaps the Deniers will acknowledge that they have made enough money off the demise of our planet and finally stop resisting corrective actions.  Don’t count on that, however. More likely they will simply move on to the final stage of Denial – which is to claim that it is too late for anyone to do anything about it.

Alternatively, perhaps some other controlling force of humanity that has survived up to that point will finally insist on forceful action.  I don’t know what form of government that might be but it might not resemble the one we presently have in the USA.  Note, for example, that in the Republican Debate of last week, the only “wisdom” offered by the candidates of that party was that our government is not capable of successfully addressing climate change – and, therefore, there is no point in trying! Thus, by their own admission, the Republican leadership is saying that a democratic form of government run by Republicans could not successfully address this problem.  I hope the other half of our political system has greater respect for the potential of our American financial and political systems.

So yes, the Deniers have indeed achieved their goal, to date, and are a long ways towards collecting the full 30 pieces of silver for their services to the fossil fuel industries. The future of humanity now hinges on the “rest of the story” to be played out in the current decade. Will the powerful forces of human ignorance and greed continue to win out over a higher level of understanding and conscientiousness?  For the sake of the latter possibility, I am very pleased to note that we have every discipline of modern science, as well as the Pope of the Catholic Church, on our side.  This is a good sign because climate change is both a scientific and moral issue.

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