Quit worrying about going vegan, or recycling, or riding a bicycle to work, or buying a Tesla instead of that Ford F-650 pickup you’ve always wanted in order to save the planet. You’re off the hook. It’s out of your hands. You can do these things if it makes you feel better, but they are not going to change the big picture. Whatever you do does not matter. Unless you are a head of state, king, president, prime minister, or other grand poobah, it is above your pay grade. If you are able to vote for people of power, that is what is left for you to do. Other than that …. nothing.
According to scientists, the only way to keep the planet’s temperature from increasing 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit is to immediately phase out all fossil fuel infrastructure and devices. As soon as existing coal, oil, or gas plants reach their engineered lifespans, instead of refurbishing we must shut them down. If we don’t, the estimates for increasing temperatures start going up. At 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, positive feedback loops of evaporating Arctic methane could kick in. Methane is 21 times better at warming the atmosphere than CO2. The warmer temps evaporate the methane. The methane makes the atmosphere warmer. It evaporates more methane …. you get the picture.
I don’t want to be a Donny Downer or a Cassandra but how likely do you think shutting down the fossil fuel industry is? The industry has just invested billions upon billions on natural gas liquefaction plants to easily transport this fuel around the world. They are not giving that up without a tooth and nail, knock down drag out; and they have the money to do it. There are 25 countries whose oil percentage of exports range from Malaysia’s 22.3% to Iraq’s 99.8%. The trucking, railways, shipping, and airline industries would have to be completely transformed to electric or hydrogen propulsion. They will be as reluctant as oil and gas to give it up. All 195 countries would require state-ordained laws banning the use of fossil fuels entirely. There are still vast numbers of people in Africa that gather around campfires and stoves burning wood or coal just like they did thousands of years ago. What are they going to use?
This is the most pivotal point in the history of man. We only get one shot at this. If we blow it, we won’t get a comparable situation for millions of years, if ever. If mankind does have a world-wide civilization by then, we will have forgotten all of this — this choice we had. Save the planet or just get along and ignore it until it is too late. Scientists are saying our planet is doomed and all I hear on the news is everything but that. We are a society in denial, trying to collectively whistle past the graveyard. Our weather men won’t even talk about it on the local news. It might be construed as political. It might upset people. We are so polite and civilized in our denouement.
Since it is off our individual shoulders now, maybe we should give more thought about how we tell our children what’s happening and what to expect in the future. Hopefully, they won’t kick you in the shins when they finally understand what you are talking about. How do we look someone like Greta Thunberg in the face and tell her we screwed up in the worst possible way. This Swedish teen will probably spit in your eye and tell you to fuck off and keep riding that bike to work. She is up for a Nobel Prize for her admonitions to do something about climate change. In reality, she should be voted Queen of the World, because that is exactly what is needed right now; some central, charismatic figure with smarts and determination to do what is right, what is required.
It is not really our fault. Besides being stupid and greedy, we are genetically handicapped to deal with this situation. We simply don’t live long enough to plan ahead. By “planning ahead” I don’t mean decades. I mean centuries. The reason is that people with money and power, the people with the means to do something, just don’t care. They would have to give up some of that money and power to change things. They figure they won’t be around to suffer the consequences of climate change anyway, so they just don’t give a damn. It would require Biblically long lifetimes to plan ahead for the human race. For now and the near future we can, at most, hope to live to a hundred, not the 969 years of Methuselah. If you were going to be around for the consequence of your actions or inaction for as long as he was, you would care.
Our one ray of hope is artificial intelligence. Pundits say a generalized AI, the singularity, will be here within 20 years. It will have the lifetime and the smarts to rationally plan ahead for a viable future for the Earth. Maybe, by the grace of God, it will take over and guide the human race rationally into the future instead of selling us as cheap, world-wrecking slaves to the first aliens that drop by.
So tell your children you are sorry for what is going on with the climate, but it’s not their fault or yours. Tell them some bad people made it too hard to do anything until it was too late. Tell them you will vote for people that might help with the problem. Maybe if we elect the right leaders, and they do the right things there is still time. Tell them to study science and engineering so that someday they might help with a solution or figure out adaptations to deal with it. Or you can put that whole talk off for later. I won’t blame you. You are only human.