Reality: The atmosphere is as thin as shellac on the globe. Where does all the exhaust go? Into that thin, thin layer. We measure carbon dioxide from the exhaust, and find it climbing every year. Physicists have learned that it traps heat. We measure the temperatures worldwide and find them warming. If we’re wrong about all of that, we can look at satellite photos of the polar seas and see how much ice has melted in recent years. Same with almost all the glaciers. In the tropics, reefs have started dying due to excess heat and due to water turning acid from carbon dioxide only since the 1980s. I’ve seen this all with my own eyes.
Stupidity: The idea that the climate scientists in the world are in a conspiracy to lie is just insane. People who think that are either nuts or are being manipulated by the greed of those whose ox will be gored. Even in the days of big tobacco, they never raised such a ridiculous claim against all of science.
Morality: Consider the last energy conversion: Slavery to oil. Slaves are much cheaper. They create a very nice life-style. The economy would collapse without our freedom to have slaves. Obviously, this moral rot is an absurd argument. And this absurdity was vehemently held, and viciously, bloodily defended. Pretty much like today.
Practicality: The world is warming and we’re warming it. That is indisputable. It will have great negative consequences; that’s also indisputable. Denying it won’t change it.
And–no one needs to give up energy. We only need to convert from caveman energy (burning something every time we need energy) to clean energy that powers the whole planet (sun, wind, the energy in the ground, with nuclear as a possible bridge). No one cares whether the energy comes from oil, coal, slaves, sunlight, or wind, as long as the light goes on when you flick the switch and the car goes when you step on the pedal. Except that, wait, we do care if it comes from slaves because that’s immoral. Well, wrecking the future is also immoral. Today’s slaves are our own children whose options are closing because we’re dictating the world they’ll be stuck with.
Patriotism: As China and Germany and Denmark know, far from wrecking the economy, building and exporting the high-tech technology for capturing clean, free-flowing energy and the grids for distributing it will involve tremendous investment and job opportunities.
The United States is falling farther behind in developing these technologies; other countries are positioning to leave us in the dust. The unpatriotic people are not the ones who want the U.S. to lead in developing clean energy. It’s the ones who don’t.
- Carl Safina