According to a recent poll in the Washington Post, 43% of adults are very certain that human activity is causing climate change. There is no doubt that massive lobby money, primarily to the Republican Party from the fossil fuel industry, is responsible for our government’s lack of action — but let’s back up a minute, 43% of people in the US believe we are personally responsible for climate change!
I have several acquaintances who are concerned about our present administration and Trump’s anti-environmental actions (now he’s just turned back the protection of streams and waterways, giving industry carte blanche to pollute even more). Several of those same individuals just bought new gas cars in the last year. That’s the problem! It’s not the climate deniers, however naive they may be — it’s the people who understand the danger at our door and think it’s someone else’s responsibility to fix. Al Gore couldn’t have been more correct — it’s an “inconvenient truth.”
The environment is our responsibility, and it falls directly on the shoulders of every single individual who accepts what man is doing and the danger we are in. When I see water fowl in an oil spill, I see it as my problem. The Deep Water Horizon spill — my problem. Pro oil lobby money, ocean acidification & the world’s dwindling food source from it, wars to protect corporate oil, world suffering, and human inequality from fossil fuel — all my problem.
Once I accept my responsibility for this world, the next question I must ask is, what can I personally do to change it for the better? To simply support politicians who claim to have environmental concerns is far short of enough. In fact, too many people use it to justify their lack of actions. “I voted for a better climate, my work is done.”
What works? Changing one’s actions. Recognizing fossil fuel is the main problem means acting to change its grip on the world’s throat. Let’s say that of the 43% who accept human-caused climate change, 15% change how they personally act — and by the way, 59% of Democrats accept it. What if the people I spoke of earlier who just bought gas cars, didn’t buy them? What if they bought electric cars instead? They can afford to own an EV. Lots of people who bought gas cars in the last year can. Why do they think they can’t go electric? They think, “It’s too hard. I have to think. I have to learn how charge it. It makes my trips too long because I have to stop to charge, and my life is so absolutely important that I can’t be inconvenienced.” Thank you, Al Gore.
Let’s say of all those people who accept anthropogenic climate change, 15% buy electric vehicles. The world would change. The world would change very fast. So, many of the people who are not changing the downward course of the environment are the very same people who accept that humans are the problem! They are the problem because they are not changing their actions, not changing how they live on a planet in crisis.
Those are the people I’m confronting here, not the people who think the planet is fine, who think nothing is wrong so there’s nothing to act on. The climate realist who won’t install solar panels because they are too expensive or the return on investment (ROI) is too low is who I’m addressing. The climate-concerned citizen who won’t buy an EV because EVs will be better in 5 years (and 5 years from then, they will be even better) is who I’m addressing.
EV prices have dropped tremendously. Range is much better and charging times shorter than a few years ago. With the charging grid growing, even long-range driving in an EV is no longer a reason not to buy one. The money you’ll save on gas and maintenance makes EVs cheaper than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the long run, and the batteries will easily last a couple of hundred thousand miles and then can be repurposed as home battery backup. People complain about charging times, yet they waste time, money, and gas having their oil changed and car serviced! Why? Because fossil fuel has indoctrinated us into complacency and worse. We are not linking the massive cost, human inequality, and damage to the environment we create every time we fill up.
The Political Connection
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a group that evaluates a country’s level of democracy on several criteria, rates the US as a “faulty democracy” — their words, not mine. You simply cannot have a viable democracy when corporations dump massive amounts of money into political parties. This was trampled further by decisions like in the Citizen’s United case have left the American flag tattered and toothless — the impeachment fiasco without witnesses that just took place attests to that.
Donald Trump’s massive assault on renewable energy, the environment, and democracy pays homage to the fossil fuel money flooding into his coffers. Looking at where the lobby money to Congress from the fossil fuel industry goes shouldn’t surprise anyone. The top 20 recipients reads like a list of Trump’s staunchest defenders: Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Kevin McCarthy, etc. In fact, out of the top 20, all but 2 are Republicans. So, who’s feeding these corporations all this powerful lobby money anyway?
What happens when you buy a gas car? You’re pumping money into corporations that put people in office. Upset that Trump was elected and may be again? Every time you stick that nozzle into your tank, you’re voting for him. When you see water foul struggling to get free of sludge, that’s on anyone pumping gas every month. Now we find Lt. Col. Vindman, who testified against Trump, has been fired and physically removed from office in DC, and so has his brother, who wasn’t involved in the impeachment. Looking at the list of actions taken by autocrats around the world, we see this same vindictive action listed along with several others, like ridicule and demonization of the press. Despotic power can only be enabled by those supporting the despot. Without it, despots are left shouting their distortions on soapboxes largely ignored by passersby. It is the enablers that give teeth to the autocrat, and to stop their rein, we must address the enablers and the sources of their power. Shutting off the oil spigot is a big step in that direction. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen, and effectively.
What’s the democracy with the highest EIU rating? Norway. And what’s the country with the highest plug-in electric car fleet, and the country where electric car sales now top gas and diesel car sales? Norway. It’s also the country that’s starting to divest from fossil fuel and invest more in renewables.
What’s the autocratic plutocracy blocking renewables and EVs that’s also rated as a faulty democracy? The US, and it’s bought and paid for in large part by fossil fuel. Make no mistake — this government has no concern for working people. Donald Trump’s tax cut made Warren Buffet $29 billion, and now he wants to cut Social Security to pay for it. The wealthier the few get, the worse democracy gets. Now we have an open authoritarian in the White House who wants to crush the Democratic Party, the press, and whistleblowers — and also make impeachment illegal. Trump also wants to crush renewables. He already taxed solar PV imports and stopped electric vehicle and renewable energy incentives. Anything that hampers his fossil fuel buddies, he blocks. His assault on the climate is so extensive that he even tried to stop radio station WWV, the time signal that comes out of Fort Collins Co. What’s that got to do with climate change? Climate scientists use WWV to study the atmosphere through Ionospheric Doppler Shift.
With every gas fill-up, we strengthen Trump and we weaken democracy.
Renewables & EVs
Renewables are the future. Technology can’t be stopped. And as renewables get stronger, fossil fuel gets weaker and its influence on governments gets weaker. We’re already seeing that effect with the loss of coal lobby power in Washington. The extent of damage and the period of recovery may take decades, but Donald Trump is an old man in poor health, regardless of the spin Republicans try to put on it. The trouble is, someone else will only fill his shoes if we let that happen. The way to stop this pernicious cycle is to cut off the oil spigot, and the best way to do that is with EVs and renewables.
No one owns the sun. It helps working people and reduces pollution. Fossil fuel makes a handful of individuals wealthy, but if we have learned anything from history, it is that change is inevitable. Mitch McConnell’s and Donald Trump’s days of damage to democracy and the environment from fossil fuel money are numbered, as are the days of fossil fuel’s distorted propaganda. It is what each of us does on a personal level that ultimately changes the world. It’s time for the individuals who recognize that climate change exists to also accept that it is their lack of actions that are enabling this destructive process to continue. It’s time for them to end their complacency and change their perspectives and actions. Make no mistake, complacency is the bread and butter of despots.