Several reports from learned bodies have come out in the last few weeks with the same old news. Climate change is still read. Global warming is still happening. In fact, the data on rising seas were matched by a rising note of alarm from the experts. If nothing is done soon, like twenty years ago, we’re all doomed to a meaner, shorter, nastier and more brutish future. Hot and dry too.
But I’m not going to bother blogging about it. What’s the use? Cassandras have been raising the alarm since the 1970s and, just as in Greek tragedy, Cassandra can’t get no respect.
Too many vested interests have too much to lose in the short term to worry about the long term. So, much of the world has adopted the Alfred E. Neuman solution. “What, me worry?” And the U.S. of A. is in the lead with the climate change deniers serving as the tip of the spear in the fight against reality.
When I first worked for a newspaper, I was bemused to discover there were editorial writer jokes. Not many. Not like doctors and lawyers, target rich environments. But a couple, which was more than I would have guessed.
Joke One: Editorial writing is like having a urinary accident in a blue serge suit. It gives you a nice warm feeling and nobody notices. (The blue serge suggests how far back this witticism goes.)
Joke Two: Editorials writers are like the people who come down out of the hills after the battle is over and shoot the wounded.
The point of both, of course, is the pointlessness and ineffectuality of professional kibitzers. In the land of the deaf, even the shouting man changes no minds. It may be fatalism to admit it, but I greatly fear nothing is going to be done about climate change unless benevolent, more highly evolved aliens show up to make us change our ways.
Failing that, it looks like inertia is not going to be overcome. The path toward the impending collision is not going to be altered. Though some of us can see the catastrophe coming, we’re powerless to stop it. We’re ike kids in the backseat as Dad runs the red light.
This is far from unprecedented. Some people saw trouble coming from a bad crowd in Germany and another in Japan, but it would have been really expensive to do something about it. Vietnam seemed like a pretty bad idea to me in 1964 or so, but on it went with fairly predictable consequences. Invading Iraq –twice? We appear to be slow learners.
Yes, I know, I could vote for people who vow to take steps to slow global warning. But first I’d have to find some. I could sign petitions and march and rally. Been there, done that. Reduce my carbon footprint? Get a Prius?
Great, and as soon as two or three billion of my close friends do the same, about the time the world’s coastal cities are submerged, maybe, just maybe ExxonMobil, the coal industry, the auto industry will wake up one morning and say, “Gosh, maybe we’d better rethink this fossil fuel thing. Get me my pet Senators on the phone.”
Problem solved. Maybe. But I’m not holding my breath. Until I have to. When my living room is underwater.