If COVID-19 Was A Quiz, Global Warming Will Be The Final Exam

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An old expression says, “If you fail to plan, you have a plan to fail.” The human community is facing a strong possibility that average temperatures will climb so high soon that life on Earth will cease to exist. And yet, we as a people have developed no plan to stop the rising temperatures. Instead, we have allowed the global corporations who are most responsible for rising temperatures to actively oppose any attempts to address the problem.

climate change average temperature chart
Image credit: PNAS

The reason why those corporations fight so hard to maintain the status quo is that they make lots and lots of money from doing what they do. The prevailing economic system holds that profits are more important than anything else, certainly more important that keeping the Earth habitable. What those corporations and their shareholders will do with all their money when the Earth is a dead, lifeless cinder is something no economist thinks about, apparently. But it seems axiomatic that no business can prosper while killing off its customers.

Fiscal conservatives balk at government programs that address climate change because government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers — even though that’s what governments have been doing for centuries. Today’s winners wouldn’t be in that position without government policies that favor them. Those same fiscal conservatives proclaim the market should decide, but how can the market decide anything when some of  the costs of doing business — particularly the effects of pollution — are conveniently left out of the equation?

The day of reckoning is fast approaching. Writing in Yale Climate Connections, Jeff Masters, one of the founders of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, says the coronavirus pandemic was a pop quiz for the world. Global warming will be the final exam, and the way things stand right now, the world, with no plan to address the issue, is set to fail spectacularly.

“When the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt, the forests of the Amazon transition to scrubland, and vast swaths of once-fertile land become inhospitable desert, there will be no climate change vaccine that will suddenly bring an end to these essentially irreversible catastrophes. Tens of millions will starve. Wars will break out over scarce resources. Hundreds of millions of climate change refugees will flee rising seas, coasts will be ravaged by stronger storms, and desert-like lands will be without the food and water needed to sustain civilization.

“Mother Nature doesn’t grade on a curve. Her grading system is fixed and absolute. Science governs the rules of the final exam, and ignoring and suppressing the information scientists give about our upcoming final exam ensures we will fail it. CSLDF has documented 433 cases of government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information since the November 2016 election. Many of these attempts involved climate change science. Our failing to defend science and scientists will surely lead to our failing Mother Nature’s final exam.”

The Trump War On Science

In America, the biggest obstacle to forming a rational plan to confront the coming climate crisis is the ignorance of its chief executive, whose sole purpose for getting up in the morning is to feed his grossly inflated ego. The man is clearly psychotic and in need of institutional care.

His single-minded focus on himself has allowed anti-science interests funded by multinational corporations to place their paid agents in the top management positions at many government agencies, where they have pursued a vigorous anti-science agenda. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the animus from top officials is trickling down to middle level managers.

“Efforts to undermine climate change science in the federal government, once orchestrated largely by President Trump’s political appointees, are now increasingly driven by midlevel managers trying to protect their jobs and budgets and wary of the scrutiny of senior officials, according to interviews and newly revealed reports and surveys.”

The situation is reminiscent of the glory days of the Soviet Union when every enterprise had a party hack on staff whose job was to enforce strict allegiance to the dictates of the Communist Party bosses.

Lauren Kurtz, executive director of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, tells the New York Times, “If top level administrators issued a really clear public directive, there would be an uproar and a pushback, and it would be easier to combat. This is a lot harder to fight.”

An inspector general’s report at the Environmental Protection Agency made public in May found that almost 400 employees surveyed in 2018 believed a manager had interfered with or suppressed the release of scientific information, but never reported the violations. That same year, a survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists of more than 63,000 federal employees across 16 agencies identified the EPA and Department of Interior as having the least trustworthy leadership in matters of scientific integrity.

Findings published in the peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE in April found that 631 workers agreed or strongly agreed that they had been asked to omit the phrase “climate change” from their work. In the same paper, 703 employees said they avoided working on climate change or using the phrase.

“They’re doing it because they’re scared,” said Maria Caffrey, a former geography specialist at the National Park Service who battled managers as they tried to delete humanity’s role in climate change from a recent report on sea-level rise. “These are all people who went to the March for Science rallies, but then they got into the office on Monday and completely rolled over.” Clearly the Trump administration has put the word out among federal employees that they better toe the line or risk losing their jobs.

The New York Times article is replete with examples of instances in which government scientist were intimidated or harassed because the dared to use the hated term “climate change” in their official reports. If you are interested in specific instances, click the link above to read the entire story.

Coronavirus & Climate Change

Jeff Masters concludes his Yale Climate Connections story with these words: “With the pandemic raging and public attention somewhat distracted away from continuing climate-destructive anti-scientist manipulations, protecting climate scientists is a more urgent task than ever. The worldwide coronavirus lockdowns are proof that humanity can act quickly on a global scale to help pass our civilization’s pop quiz. Collectively, we can do so again to help us pass our coming climate change final exam. Failing to do so isn’t an option.”

Except it very much is an option unless we stop doing what we have always done and start taking realistic steps to moderate rising temperatures immediately — not in 2040, or 2050, now! In the US, that starts with throwing out the bum in the Oval Office, but even that is not enough. All those despicable department heads like Andrew Wheeler at the EPA and Elaine Chao at DOT were confirmed by a coterie of compliant Republican Senators who think their highest priority is getting reelected rather than serving the American people. They should get tossed out as well, beginning with Despicable Mitch McConnell.

No matter what else you do this year, vote to exterminate the malignancy of the Republican party. The Earth can’t wait four more years for real leadership on global warning, leadership that has been sorely lacking during the reign of terror perpetrated by the Trump maladministration.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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