The United Nation’s most recent commission on Climate Change just issued their voluminous report. It verifies what most already know, that rapid climate change is being enabled by the continued introduction of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Over the past ten years more CO2 has been emitted than that past three decades combined.
What to do? If a combined effort of all nations included taking drastic steps to reduce carbon emissions beginning now we could limit the overall increase of temperature – and its impact – by two degrees F. If those steps were taken, and that’s a big if.
What does it require? Enormous changes in carbon emissions – manufacturing, vehicle emissions, carbon based industries such as coal and oil.
How to get there? Really there is only one way – public policies that enact limits.
What’s the problem? Money. Big money. Corporations stand to lose money in the process of making the changes required. Regulations reduce sheer profit. And the corporations, lobbyists and big money own and control the politicians. As the Supreme Court is dismantling any legislation that could stop the deluge of money into elections and the coffers of politicians it is only going to get worse.
The political tactic that is used is denial – a foolish, almost unbelievable denial of the preponderance of scientific evidence. Nobody with half a brain believes that stonewalling. But not everyone has half a brain. The public is easily duped. Say it enough on talk radio and TV with an air of authority and it becomes “the truth.”
To put a finer edge on it people who are really, really smart with almost unlimited resources are putting their intelligence to work in the effort to protect those who would damage our environment most for their own financial gain. The people who deny climate change and human agency in it are the same people who would roll back reasonable regulations that protect our air, water and land from heinous pollution.
Years ago the tobacco industry denied that there was any health hazards that came as the result of smoking. Even in the face of dramatic evidence to the contrary they continued to deny the facts. They denied the facts in order to continue to sell their product in the same way and make the same profits. And this continued until denial turned into out and out lying. Eventually they were caught in their own web and the society forced them to change. And that, in the end, is what will happen with emissions regulations and climate change.
Unfortunately, many people died from lung and respiratory disease before the truth came out. We can only hope that the same does not happen with climate change and what is required to abate its momentum. Will we need to suffer mass devastation before awakening? Or will we have to endure climate cancer because the industries with the clout were unwilling to fess up – right until the very end?
The scientists have their role. The political process has its – legislation, regulation, policies. And people of faith are charged with making the moral case, to state our core convictions about being stewards of the earth, tending God’s garden, and loving our neighbor with compassion and justice. Naming the sin is a good place to start. And then, because of who we are, we paint a portrait of redemption and liberation, a way out if the people will but turn around.