Posted by: carlsafina | Thursday, December 10 09

Climate Denial is Stupid and Unpatriotic

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


  1. […] 10, 2009 · Leave a Comment From science writer and ocean activist Carl Safina’s blog: Reality: The atmosphere is as thin as shellac on the globe. Where does all the exhaust go? Into […]

  2. “The United States is falling farther behind in developing these technologies; other countries are positioning to leave us in the dust.”

    So if the US is falling behind, why will so few countries start their own Cap&trade system to help develope clean energy? Why because if the US doesn’t have it’s own cap&Trade these other countries will be at an economic disadvantage. In other words, clean energy is expensive and is will alway remain expensive. Expensive means job losses. This is climate change reality.

    • No, Klem, I don’t agree. And cap and trade means little at the moment as an indication of what’s needed. It’s one tiny sliver of all the considerations and it has legitimate critics.

      As for the idea that clean energy is expensive, that’s not the point at all because all the pricing is fake. First of all, the price of oil and coal means little, because the costs are pushed onto society. The price is either fixed by OPEC to be low enough to keep us addicted, or lobbied low by coal because it’s cheap to get out of the ground and the pricing needn’t reflect the environmental destruction, health effects to workers and the public, and the price of cleanup and sea level rise, moving cities, fighting wars, etc etc.

      Even if dirty energy wasn’t changing climate, there are lots of environmental and political reasons to get off it. Not least, it enriches our enemies.

      Creating clean tech and the infrastructure (e.g. smart national grid and international transmission) would create incredible investment opportunities and JOBS. But not for EXXON. The companies and workers that would benefit aren’t there yet to lobby. So current destructive greed prevails.

  3. Brilliant and sadly true. Because of human ignorance and denial, we are preparing to kiss the polar bear goodbye.

    • Thank you Richard. And thank you for your new book highlighting the plight of that white bear of the polar ice. No ice, no polar bears. But also no ringed, bearded, or ribbon seals, no narwhals and bowhead whales, no ivory gulls–the list of creatures up against a future with poor odds is growing.

  4. Double thanks. To you, Carl Safina, alerting us (including non-professionals like me) to what’s real, by your writings, etc.–books Song for the Blue Ocean, Eye of the Albatross, Voyage of the Turtle, and, we learn, another book forthcoming. And to you, Richard Ellis (your response above to Carl Dec. 11). I only learned of you from Carl, starting with your awesome fantastic paintings of leaping maco shark, found in your Book of Sharks, spellbinding paintings/text, informative, heartfelt, akin to your native Safina. Much appreciating also your Book of Whales; Dolphins and Porpoises; Big Fish; and now, referred to by Carl here in his blog, new Ellis book “highlighting the plight of that white bear of the polar ice.”
    “There Were Giants in Those Days,” it was once said of some sorts on this earth. Now you greatly caring about giants of the seas, every creature in fact, do either of you suppose, I wonder, will “ice bears” have a chance over time to evolve to full aquatic life–now appear to be mighty good long-distance underwater swimmers. No time to become marine mammal? (like it or not?) And which animals are in the process of going the other way, heading for land? …while some humans are evolving aquatic (time underwater with marine life!) — To you:
    Best wishes overland^^^undersea~~~~

  5. Carl- well written. I’m in Copenhagen this week, interviewing. Words to me have included: “Are we expendable?” Ronnie Jumeau, Seychelles Ambassador. Something’s wrong here.

    Or another… “The ocean has a long memory. What’s happening now in the air will be happening for a thousand years in the sea.” Something else very wrong.

    Or from Jackie McGlade of the European Environmental Agency… “it won’t be that bad -quite wonderful- actually- to design and build floating cities.” At first, I’m slightly excited by going to sea. Then her follow up “… and we could place them just offshore of where we once lived.”

    Not the world I want to give my kids.

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