The Latest Climate News: Some Context

The climate news has gotten so bad even world leaders are shocked by their continued inaction. In November, the details of the Paris Accords were supposed to be hammered out in Katowice, Poland, a city surrounded by so much coal that Polish President Andrzej Duda informed the group it could (and probably will) keep his country supplied with dirty energy for the next 200 years. On the other side of the fence, French president Emmanuel Macron’s effort to cut carbon emissions was met by his countrymen with a full-scale rebellion because he levied a tax on gasoline intended to reduce consumption.

In the meantime, climate change is accelerating. This is obvious to anyone who has watched the Weather Channel for even five minutes. I’m certainly not asking you to take my word for it. Go ahead and look it up.

Early in 2017, after the election of He Who Shall Not Be Named to the presidency of the United States, Republican members of Congress came home to their districts for town hall meetings with irate constituents. These citizens were alarmed at the idea that healthcare in America was now going to crawl back into the pit Republicans were content to leave it in. But that’s not all that came up at those meetings, though it was all that got reported on.

At the meeting I attended, a guy stood up and asked Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-5th CD) what he and the Republican-dominated Congress were going to do about climate change. Even in 2017, when carbon emissions were down a little bit, people knew the climate was changing and that it was no good. People in the Midwest like to have warmth in summer and snow in winter. When there’s no snow, we get a little nervous. We have to start making the stuff.

Sensenbrenner’s answer was a classic Republican mind teaser. First of all, he said, “Elections have consequences.” I hope he remembers those words now. Then he admitted that, of course there is such a thing as climate change. And it will be fixed the minute business provides a solution.

This is a mind-teaser because, right now, business cannot provide a solution. As everyone knows, business is controlled by the government, and the government is controlled by oil and gas oligarchs. And they are not going to kiss their profits good-bye even if it chokes every last one of us. They have enough money to live in actual glass bubbles if they want to. And for the time being, other than a hurricane or a big fire or two, most people think they are living pretty good lives, and they’ll go on thinking that until the their water runs out and their lungs burn to cinders on all the methane in the air.

But by then (in, say, ten or fifteen years) business will probably come along and save us. Some other businesses. Glass-bubble manufacturing will be huge. And there’s a company in China that builds massive turbines that suck all the carbon out of the air. How do you think Beijing managed to hold the 2008 Olympics?

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