Humans have shown an almost limitless capacity for innovation. We’ve domesticated fire, mastered flight, mapped our own genome and invented the wheel, telescope and Internet. So why are we so lackadaisical, so inept, at tackling the climate crisis, the greatest existential threat we’ve ever faced?
It’s not because we’ve lost the knack for innovation. For example, clever minds have just discovered how to make clothes. CottonEngineered to replace petroleum-derived polyester synthetics that pollute our air, water and food with non-biodegradable plastic microfibers.
Nor is it because we don’t know what needs to be done to prevent climate disaster: Stop dumping carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
So, what’s at the root of humanity’s incompetence when it comes to solving the climate crisis?
For a while it was easy to invoke the “slow boil” explanation, that climate change is such a slowly evolving threat that humans behave like the frog thrown into a cool pot of water that’s heated up so gradually the frog doesn’t notice it’s being cooked alive. This explanation is no longer plausible, given that almost every region of the globe is experiencing record-breaking climate extremes such as wildfires and droughts, tornadoes hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and flooding.
The fact that heads of state, climate experts, and activists have been meeting annually for 26 years to address the climate crisis (the so called Conference of the Parties or COP) is another sign that the slow boil hypothesis is fading. In fact, COP 26Just concluded in November with the sad news that even the Unenforceable PromisionsThe nearly 200 countries participating in the meeting will not achieve the greenhouse emission reductions required to prevent the worst effects of global heating.
Our failure to address climate change is due to two things: unregulated corporate capitalism, and governments failing to act in the public’s best interests. Corporate profiteering is what has made our economies successful in the United States and around the world. It is based on the burning of fossil fuels. It continues to be used to steer the world away from the climate crisis and to make short-term corporate profits. Combine this with corrupt politics where politicians are dependent on corporate donors to get elected, and the welfare of the public as well as the planet is pushed to the back burner.
The Netflix bombshell “Don’t Look Up” captured this formula for inaction on the climate through the satirical allegory of a planet-killing comet headed straight for earth. Despite abundant scientific evidence showing that humans and the planet will survive if the comet is destroyed before it gets close, the government succumbs to the greed of a corporate CEO who has a cockamamie plan to mine the comet’s rare-earth elements. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil the ending for you.
David Sirota is an American journalist and screenwriter who contributed to “Don’t Look Up.” In a Jan. 7 appearance on the independent news outlet Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar, he clarified what the movie is fundamentally about: “how elites and institutions do not operate in the public’s interest.” As example, he pointed out that politicians and the media characteristically fail to address how a bill will affect the livable ecosystem on which human life depends, opining instead on how the economy could be affected.
This misguided thinking effectively puts humans and our planet’s life support systems in service of the economy. Can the economy not be viewed as a tool for ensuring a healthy planet for humans, and all other living creatures?
We are currently witnessing this same reversal of priorities in Congress’s deadlock in passing President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda which ClaimTo provide a roadmap to reach net-zero carbon emissions by mid century The Arguments againstThese are based on the dollar cost and do not consider the human suffering or the global devastation caused by the failure of the federal government to act.
That in December Congress passed a $768 billion defense bill despite the end of the war in Afghanistan should shamefully upend any suggestion that the bucks just aren’t there to protect the public from increasingly devastating climate extremes as are already plaguing every region of country. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel sector continues to be subsidizedby our tax dollars as carbon dioxide is sprayed into the atmosphere without any accountability, penalty or responsibility for the damage done.
If the climate provisions of Build Back Better are repealed, we can expect more climate-conscious parts of the nation to move ahead despite Washington’s indifference. This inspires me to hope. One, California was the first state to be established on January 1. MandatSeparate food waste from general household garbage for the dual purpose to recycle it and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills
In the spirit of the environmental maxim “think globally but act locally,” I’m excited to receive my new green food/yard waste bin and do my small part. This maxim rings hollow when you consider the immense amount of actions required to keep global warming under control in the nick of time.
It’s urgent that we convince world leaders, politicians And corporate heads to prioritize both thinking andAct globally
Sarah Mosko, a licensed psychologist, sleep disorders specialist and freelance environmental writer, was born in San Diego, but now lives in Orange County.