We must tell the truth: part 1

By Steve Austin

We must absolutely tell the truth as to what trying to stem and then reverse climate change will mean: the end of industrial-consuming society. That society is founded upon the use of fossil fuels. We do not get that society without them. There is no choice of “getting greener” and still basically living like we do. To deal with climate change we will live completely different lives, with less energy, less material things, more inconveniences, and more hard work.

Buying a Chevy Volt is not going to work.

A recent commentary from the LA Times that addresses the destruction that climate change is wreaking on California illustrates the point.   The commentary rightfully explains what climate change has done to the state, and talks about solutions moving forward. Here’s the relevant section:

California isn’t waiting. The state has long led the way on embracing renewable energy sources and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Then there’s the current legislation demanding better gas mileage in the near future, which is under attack by the Trump administration. But as a single state in a world of major polluters, can going green make a difference? 

Alex Hall, a UCLA climate scientist, has no doubt. “I think what’s happening in California is wonderful,” said Hall, who traded his gas-hungry car for a Chevy Bolt. “It’s a pathway forward.”

Environmentalism isn’t sacrifice, Hall said. It’s change. And in charting a course toward renewable energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions, California is setting an agenda.

“If you look at any transformation in history, it hasn’t happened all at once everywhere,” Hall said. “It’s been a small group of people committed to change. They’ve made change in their communities and it scaled up from there.”

While this is admirable, this is also nuts. Better gas mileage only slows the rate of warming, not the overall effect. The reality is that we cannot only slow the rate of warming. Climate change is already disastrous. We must END the use of fossil fuels AND do everything possible to draw down excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

So the UCLA climate scientist who virtue signals that he is doing his part by buying a Chevy Volt is not telling the truth about what is really needed.

Nor is the idea that a small group committed to change is what will achieve the elimination of climate change. That is nonsense. We don’t have time to wait for small groups to effect change. Climate reckoning is here. Nor will small groups be able to overcome the vast resistance from the great majority of our fellow citizens who will not voluntarily choose to end their convenient, pampered, consumer lifestyles made possible by fossil fuels.

Had we started 30 years or more ago, maybe we could have had a managed transition away from the fossil fuel era to an all renewable energy era. But we didn’t and now we can’t. Time is too short. Now only unrelenting global mass actions can do it. Maybe. But I don’t see it yet. And every day we wait, the planet gets hotter.

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