Le dénialité est trop cher.
Denial isn’t specific to Americans, though we do seem to be better at it than most. We are now at least 30 years into severe climate change, yet 30-40% of Americans are in denial; assumedly, still looking for, waiting for, a return to normal. Not only are we not going back to the way it was 30 years ago; under the best of scenarios, no one of the next 5 generations will see the weather and climate of 1990 again. Under less than best of scenarios, neither the current generation nor the following 3 generations, will see weather and climate return to those of today. Still we see these professional deniers push and shove their way into any public discussion to argue that we can’t afford to take the necessary steps to halt Climate Change because the changes would be too costly. This lot deliberately tries to lead us to believe that their employers’ sunken costs are somehow our own.
The real cost of our not doing enough 30 years ago is the cost of the damage done during those 30 years plus the cost of doing today what still needs to be done. Putting it off just makes it ever more expensive. Still and yet,we hear politicians, economists and the self-anointed say that we can’t afford to do what we need to be doing about Climate Change. If we don’t, in another 30 years, we will have borne all the added damage that will have been done and be facing a situation where no amount of money will be enough. The cost of Climate Change will always be increasing until Climate Change is reversed. We’re well into shorter periods of doubling for temperature change, the number of wildfires and the acres burned, extended periods of drought, displaced people, … i.e., the price of not doing whatever it takes is doubling; so the price of doing whatever it takes. It is the not doing something about Climate Change that we can’t afford. We simply must stop burning fossil fuels.
Trump, although perhaps better known for his lying, is also a known Climate Change denier. Most of his supporters are in deep denial about Climate Change; many of them support him because of his denial. The Trump presidency itself is a consequence of our collective denial of Climate Change (that and a few or more other things). Since taking office, Trump has taken several actions that increase greenhouse gas emissions; thereby increasing the rate of Climate Change, increasing the damage.
The COVID-19 pandemic itself is an indirect consequence of this denial. Climate Change has severely diminished viable habitats for many species, putting pressure of these species, putting different species in closer proximity. President Trump denied the pandemic; told America that it would go away. It didn’t; it won’t. His is one of the biggest denials by an American president of all times. As a consequence of the pandemic, of Trump’s lying about and public denial of it, and also because of a large segment of the American public’s denial of it; more than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 to date. Most of these deaths could have been avoided. Yet, Trump lies to us about aerosol transmission, susceptibility of children to COVID-19, availability of a vaccine, … These lies themselves are a form of denial; a denial of reality. So, too, the believing of those lies by some thirty-plus percent of Americans. If we had provided masks and imposed obligatory wearing, tested, and did contact tracing, the death toll would have been <30k. The damage to our economy would have been ~ -3% GDP. We know this because of South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, … America’s denial of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a very high price. It will keep doing so until: we make the wearing of mask obligatory for close proximity, have rapid result accurate testing, and do effective contact tracing; or, until almost everyone is vaccinated with a highly effective vaccine.
Is our denial inherited? Probably. In our past: The Capitalists lied about capitalism and the people believed them, died early for capitalism by the tens of thousands. Slave owners lied to themselves. Slave owners lied to poor white southerners and those poor white southerners believed them, fought and died for them. More lately, many Americans let Fox News lie to them and tell them what to believe. What are they thinking letting someone tell them what to believe? How could someone let tell them what to think?
America has been in decline for 50 years now, yet a majority of us wait for things to get back to normal. Oh, and by the bye, that was Normal we just passed, the town just before that was called Normal, and, that town straight ahead is called — Normal. Sorry, guess you can’t get to normal from here.
Sixty minutes gave a hat tip to James Hansen last Sunday, claiming that he was the father of climate science and also claiming that his predictions of anthropogenic climate change in 1988 were correct. Later they did admit that glacial loss was already as far along as it had been predicted to be by the middle of the 21st century. Hansen was really just the first to have enough data to convincingly show how far climate change had already progressed since the beginning of the industrial revolution. His predictions are little more than projections from past history of a rate of temperature change as the dependent variable relating to the independent variable of atmospheric GHG concentration.
In “The World Set Free (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey)” it was explained by Neil deGrasse Tyson how the theory of ACC was developed in the late 19th century, long before evidence was available. Those theoretical guys still know more than the data guys. ACC operates in a geological scope and context. The positions of the tectonic plates come into play as to just how this will unfold.
In any case, the deniers claim that we are alarmists, while the truth is more terrible. We are overconfident in our abilities and not nearly alarmed as we would be if we really knew how bad the trouble is that are in.
Absent transformational technology for carbon capture being deployed globally in the next ten years, it is game over for human civilization by about 2050. Not because we will bake to death, but because we will slaughter one another in global resource wars. Thanks to the internet, those who will lose their sources of food, water and habitable land know what the rest of the planet has and have an existential motive for seizing it.
There is plenty evidence of human technology, but civilization not so much.
OTOH, the simple physics is that heat radiators are increasing from drought and deforestation while heat sumps are getting saturated and heat reflectors are melting away. We are in the flat line heading into the knee of a hyperbolic curve. Once we pass the knee of the curve then things will really suck bad and fast. There is no telling what tipping points may lie ahead, but tipping points are inevitably catastrophic.
UK climate assembly
You don’t see the denialists much anymore. Years since CoRev posted his disinformation in here. I don’t miss him at all.
@ Ron and Joel
Thanks, Dan. Good stuff.
If the tardigrade ever develops an opposing thumb and fingers then it is game over for vertebrates :<)
Unfortunately, even in a world ruled by tardigrades there will still be politicians, which have long been known to be mostly spineless creatures :<)