The road to rescue from climate change is rocky and devious. All sorts of promises are being made by all sorts of groups, from individuals to major country groups. But real progress? Not so much.
For example, according to the Financial Times, on 20 June 2019 a meeting of leaders of the European Union gathered to adopt a plan to get net global emissions of greenhouse gases down to zero by 2050. Except the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland all refused to join. They all have industries that are major greenhouse gas emitters and they wanted to know up front exactly how much they were going to be paid to refrain from producing those emissions. Never mind the fact that, as global warming increases, we’re all going to be affected. They don’t want to pay the bill too soon. They may think that they have plenty of time to decide.
It’s pretty easy to divide the world’s population into two groups: the Believers and the Scoffers. The Believers are those who believe climate change is happening, is bad, will get worse and must be stopped or even reversed. The Scoffers are those who have never heard of climate change, don’t believe it , or believe it’s someone else’s responsibility.
Put almost all scientists, many young people, farmers, several global corporations and a growing number of politicians in the Believer group. Put most Republicans, most corporations and owners with vested interests in greenhouse gas emitting businesses in the Scoffer group, together with billions of people who have never heard of climate change. Also among the Scoffers put those who believe climate change might happen some day but not on their watch or with not enough intensity to make them change their ways. Their motto is: Don’t bother me with facts (or I have alternative facts); my mind is made up.
Converting the Scoffers
Regardless of what we believe, Mother Nature has her own ways of doing things. Ways that are completely independent of us. If we insist on filling the atmosphere with gases that trap heat, so be it; the temperature will go up — and stay that way until those gases are either removed from the atmosphere or turned into a form that doesn’t trap heat. This can be hundreds or thousands of years in the case of CO2. So, if we collectively don’t do anything to change our greenhouse gas emissions the atmosphere will continue to warm up, the oceans will rise and become more acidic, weather will become even weirder than it has been for the past two years, and so on.
All this will eventually cause the Scoffers to become Believers — or die with their beliefs intact. The problem with that is that Mother Nature’s actions affect us all, whatever we believe in. So we Believers will suffer just as much, or even more than, the Scoffers as farms dry up or are drowned, islands and coral reefs disappear, coastal cities become submerged, forests burn down, droughts increase and other forms of mayhem happen.
The trouble is that we don’t know exactly when some of these will occur or how many will be affected. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in their Fifth Assessment Report, gives us until 2040 to get the net greenhouse gas emissions down to zero. If we are to avoid some level of catastrophe. As we watch the weather changes in the next few years we will have a better idea of the rate of change.
So although progress seems minimal today it is very important that we Believers keep working to convince the Scoffers that they should join us. We need to reach a critical mass of active Believers to turn the tide. The deadline may be sooner than we think now.