The people's voice of reason

MILLENNIAL MUSINGS (Or, the Terror of Climate Change)

We would like to enjoy the world after you’re gone, please. And spare me the “well, it’s cold right here, right now, so it couldn’t possibly be warming in general” spiel. (By the way, this is the exact same argument that leads to people continuing to spank their children despite literally every single medical, psychological, and children’s group that has studied it saying it is terrible.

The planet is getting hotter, and we are the cause. In the words of the report commissioned by the United States government, “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” Our president may not believe it, but most of us (and almost all of the rest of the world) does. We believe it because it is true, because it is supported by verifiable fact, and because the failure to do so would represent an existentially threatening amount of willful ignorance. Moreover, attempting to downplay this report as nothing more than “partisan” or “liberal fearmongering” is plain wrong. It was first commissioned in the 1980s (hey, most of you folks like Reagan and George Sr., right?), and it is the product of 13 separate Trump administration agencies.

In the face of overwhelming evidence (there is no “both sides” in the scientific community outside of BP’s and Exxon’s leaking change purse), I we all must accept that we must do something, or else. To the more economically-conservative of you, I would point out that the costs of combatting it only go up every year it is not addressed. Additionally, the argument against—that it would harm the profits of companies that trade in greenhouse gas emitting industries (and the paychecks of those they employ—is short-sighted to a fault given our already diminishing reliance on fossil fuels in the post-green technology world. To the more religiously-minded, how could you believe the world is a gift from God but not believe that you would need to keep it as pristine as possible?

Regardless, the potential payoff if the deniers happen to be right (they’re not, we may just get lucky and be able to adapt) is nowhere near the risk if they are not. Assessing the impact of more frequent and stronger hurricanes, longer and more severe droughts, harsher wildfires, unpredictable winter storms, less diverse ecosystems on land and at sea, shifting ocean currents, and a never-ending march of more species to the trash bin of history, to name a few, is far more complex than the pages of this opinion column would allow. Suffice it to say, though, that these outcomes represent real and tangible threats to our very existence. Meanwhile, California (among several other states) and Europe have proven that we can address our problems head-on without devolving intoanarchy or rushing headlong into abject poverty. Quite the opposite, in fact. And, even if after we invest the effort we find out the science was wrong all along, would it really be so bad to have spent our time and invested our best efforts to make sure that the only place in the entire universe we know we can survive is as nice as possible for as long as possible? We would like to enjoy the world after you’re gone, after all.


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