Caring, compassionate climate change advocates are meeting in Glasgow to try to fashion a habitable world for future generations. The haphazard response by the world’s nations to the COVID-19 pandemic [and deliberately deadly decisions by our former president and others of his ilk] shows that humanity still lacks the will to combat global warming.
Somebody might lose a nickel in the process.
The climate conference is in Scotland. In June Caroline Rance, of Friends of the Earth Scotland pointed out the “obscenity” of Scottish plans for a new oil field. “If ministers are serious about facing up to the climate crisis,” she said, “they must end their support for climate wrecking fossil fuels at home and abroad.”
The United States’ official envoy to the conference John Kerry told the BBC the Glasgow confab is the “last be hope for the world to get its act together.”
Don’t count on it.
At mid-October, Canada’s CTV News reported, Mexico’s government claimed Tuesday that it is leading a transition to more renewable energy, even though President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pushing to restrict private wind and solar projects.”
Talk is cheap.
Many of our biggest banks have touted their commitment to climate concerns. But in April, Raw Story looked behind the curtain: “Yes, nearly all of the country’s biggest banks have now committed to achieve ‘net-zero’ climate emissions by 2050. But, at the same time, those same banks are continuing to loan trillions to the companies most responsible for causing climate change.”
A quick spurt of positive publicity, followed by business as usual.
In October the BBC asks, “Can you stop Norway drilling the oil that made it rich?” And then provided the answer: “Norway’s oil and gas sector will not be dismantled, new government says.”
A month earlier CNBC reported: “As world leaders prepare for one of the most important climate summits ever held, UN-backed research shows governments are collectively planning to extract far more fossil fuels than would be consistent with global climate targets.”
These actions – shouting louder than any patronizing palaver – reflect an unflattering inflexibility to ride the Flux that guides the world.
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech, puts it succinctly, according to Daily Kos: “We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”
World civilization is driven by greed. The countries encourage and condone it to fill their own coffers. Sometimes the evidence screams even louder.
Just before the Glasgow meeting, Democracy Now reported on the work of investigative journalist Daniel Boguslaw: “As Sen. Joe Manchin demands Democrats drop critical climate funding to replace coal- and gas-fired power plants with renewable energy sources, investigative reporting into the financial dealings of Manchin reveals that he has profited over $4.5 million from investments in West Virginia coal companies since he became a U.S. senator.”
I’m not sure if economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was being ironic when he tweeted: “Future historians – if there are any future historians, that is, if civilization doesn’t collapse – will be astonished that we let the planet burn for the sake of an industry that employs less than 3% of workers even in West Virginia.”
Obviously, it’s not those 3% who matter to Sen. Manchin. What matters is using his office to protect his own polluted profits – at the expense of only the entire planet. What a legacy.
And last year, the BBC informs us, on this planet, stricken by a pandemic that shuttered offices, businesses and many industries, temporarily if not permanently, “The build-up of warming gases in the atmosphere rose to record levels in 2020, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
“The amounts of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide rose by more than the annual average in the past 10 years.”
And, of course, foolish fossil fuelers are cranking up production as people continue to ignore the pandemic. That inaction is the template for the lack of commitment to reduce global warming.
In April, the International Energy Agency called for, “a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies.” But when one person can thwart those efforts and when that person is allied with the richest and dirtiest corporations in the world, the forecast for future generations is hot and getting hotter.
This essay is part of The Oklahoma Observer’s participation in Covering Climate Now, an ongoing global journalism collaboration aimed at strengthening coverage of the climate story.