There is evidence of tropical trees in Greenland, I’m told. So the planet was naturally much warmer than it is now. Ice sheets are getting thicker, not thinner. The planet was supposed to freeze in the 1970’s. Acid rain was going to wipe out the rainforest. Every other weather related catastrophe we were told to worry about has never occurred. The waters didn’t reclaim coastal cities across the globe. Al Gore was wrong. Now they expect us to believe that the planet is in imminent danger yet again and I’m no longer interested.
I’ll do you one better: I don’t really care whether or not burning all of these fossil fuels has any impact on the planet. If the science was settled yet again tomorrow and we could say with 100% accuracy that these fuels are having no impact on the environment, I would still want to end our use of them as quickly as possible.
There are a few reasons for this. Chiefly among them is my wish to end our propagation and financing of horrific, tyrannical regimes that happened to find themselves sitting on immense reserves of oil, just below the corpses. Otherwise irrelevant backwaters that are controlled by psychotics have turned into global powers because of their access to this resource. With the money brought in through oil sales they have become incredibly powerful and influential, now able to spread their misery to nearby nations while brutalizing their own people. Without this one resource, fewer journalists would have to worry about dismemberment. Some nations would not find themselves on the receiving end of a curiously overlooked genocide had their neighbours remained murderous paupers as opposed to murderous trillionaires.
To be clear, we are complicit in their atrocities when we look past them in order to secure the crude that we are dependent upon.
Some countries have only had to deal with the economic “curse” of oil. Meaning they are among the few who found it, became entirely reliant upon it economically, and lost everything when the price dropped or demand evaporated. This has made for very precarious lives in what should otherwise be relatively stable and prosperous nations. Some were spared leaders that can only be described as evil and found themselves merely with the inept and the corrupt. The price they have paid is mass starvation and political upheaval when their de facto dictator decides that he just isn’t going to give up power. A lesson he learned from his predecessor.
Finally, there are some who managed their discovery of oil incredibly well. Using the income to set up sovereign wealth and pension funds to ensure future generations are well cared for. All at the cost of part of their territory being forever marred. And this leads me to my next point. That being the damage caused to the land and waters themselves. I’m not referring to potential global temperature fluctuations or the possible increase in atypical and disastrous weather events. I am specifically referring to the undeniable erosion of the environmental beauty where drilling and extraction and consumption occur.
There has to be a place among our priorities for beauty, for the things that stop us in our tracks when seen or heard. The things that can barely be described and only witnessed. As fleeting and as rare as these things can be, as debatable as they are, what is truly beautiful is of incalculable value. A pristine mountain range or a lush valley, a night’s sky that shows us the cosmos through time. You can’t eat it or put it to work. It turns neither profit nor turbine. It doesn’t do anything but exist yet that very existence is precious.
Do we really need scientific reasoning to prove that basic human rights or beauty should be preserved and nurtured? Are these things not intrinsically more swaying than all the research journals under the sun?
I’m not going to debate climate change. So enjoy your next UN conference. Set up another agreement or accord that no one will follow and that will be wildly ineffectual even if they do. Watch them shake some hands, pose for some pictures, and listen to speeches by teary-eyed children. When you’re done with that we can get started on work that will actually be meaningful and not held up by jargon.