By David L. Brown
Yesterday was Earth Day and nothing much happened. Well, the organizers claim that a billion people around the world celebrated the event. Hmm, I am skeptical of that, unless “celebrating” might include glancing at the sky, scraping one’s foot in the dirt, or otherwise recognizing the planet on which we live. Defined that way, more than six billion may be said to have celebrated the event, albeit without realizing it.
Meanwhile, the charge is on in Washington to tackle all the problems of the world’s environmental threats. A cap-and-trade plan is in motion to “solve” our CO² problems by adding taxes to any entity that emits carbon. The money the government receives will supposedly go to further R&D directed to “clean” energy, but you know how that goes. Just remember that all the money we have paid into the Social Security system was supposed to be there for us in our old age, but the government squandered every last dime of it on other things and stuck future generations with the bill. Will the cap-and-trade revenues be used any more wisely?
I continue to be astonished at the ignorance displayed on both sides of the climate change question. On the one hand we have the deniers, those who claim there is no such thing as global warming or climate change, and that even if there were it wouldn’t mean much if anything. This flies in the face of a vast body of scientific evidence, almost all of which points to a serious threat as global warming continues. Deniers are neither optimists nor pessimists on the question, since they refuse to even acknowledge the problem exists. In effect, they are putting their fingers in their ears and saying “Nyah, nyah, I can’t hear you!”
On the other hand we have those who happily think that we can just wave a kind of magic wand over the problem and make it go away. In previous essays I have discussed what I call the Rabbit of Unreasonable Hope, waiting be pulled out of a magician’s hat to amaze and reassure the audience. These eternal optimists can be compared to the followers of cults, laying aside reason in order to accept unlikely “facts” that make them feel good. They follow the principles set down in the children’s book Pollyanna, in which the main character makes a “game” of finding something positive in every situation, no matter how grim. These modern day Pollyannas believe that if only we start right now today we can undo all the troubles in the world in just no time at all.
As I have explained in previous essays, I think of myself as a realist. A realist is someone who looks at the facts as they are and determines the best course of action. On the question of climate change and environmental decline, I come down neither on the side of the deniers nor those who are preternaturally optimistic on the question. Deniers are either ignorant, evil or both. Pollyannas are watching that magician with no doubt in their minds that the Rabbit of Unreasonable Hope will soon hop out and make everything swell again. These ideas are fed upon by politicians such as Barack Obama, who said during the campaign last year that if he were elected “that was the moment the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal.” Statements such as this are reminiscent of the empty promises of cult leaders promising special, magical events for their followers. They have no basis in reality, none whatsoever.