Just by way of name-dropping, I had coffee with Jon Lebkowsky yesterday. Jon is part of circle of people I have admired from a distance for a very long time now. I'm hoping to get better connected with some of the old guard (in Austin at least), but for now that's neither here nor there for the purposes of In It.
I bring him up because of some of the conversation that has followed up on his blog entry about Politics and Climate Change wherein he basically asked the core question of this blog, viz., especially with regard to climate change, Why Is The Truth Losing Ground? Of course, I commented, though on his Facebook page, which I guess you can't see. (*grumble Facebook grumble*) But what's really captivating me about the discussion is somebody else's response. That person quoted this article by Paul Danish in full. I'll just grab a couple of points out of it:
Got the picture? There are lots of reasons it ain't gonna happen. These are solid arguments, too.
I'm a global warming skeptic. Not about whether it's happening or whether humans have a hand in it, but about whether anything can be done about it—or should be.
1. People will not stay the course on combating climate change or on any other major undertaking if they don't begin seeing positive results in a few years.
4. There can be no realistic prospect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions unless China stops building coal-fired power plants, which it is currently doing at a rate of about one every 10 days. This will not happen.
5. ... Most people in the Third World want running water, indoor pluming, electricity, cars, heated and/or cooled homes, telecommunications, and a lot of other material things, all of which require energy for their manufacture and operation. If meeting their needs only doubles global energy use in that time, and if that doubling is achieved without using any more fossil fuels than we currently do, it will represent a triumph of human ingenuity of unprecedented proportions.
But even that rosy scenario leaves us burning fossil fuels at today's rates, which created the problem in the first place, and which if continued will make it worse.
8. Attempting to prevent global warming is discretionary. Adapting to global warming is mandatory—at least if you want to survive and have any sort of a life.
What bothers me is how people constantly confuse description and prescription. They confuse what is probably going to happen with what they want to have happen. Note that the author is clear about this in the first paragraph. "Nothing can be done. Nothing should be done."
What the hell ever happened to democracy, responsibility. I swear, people in this country think that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance" means that they should be armed to the teeth and try to squint like bald eagles at people with different colored skin. Eternal vigilance means taking responsibility for the health of the civilization, because the king isn't going to do that for you anymore. Honestly, people seem to have forgotten that we are in charge.
Yes, there is a risk that we are going to be stupid about this. There is even reason to expect that we are going to be stupid about this. But there is no reason to advocate such stupidity.
This sort of fatalism itself is fundamentally a failure of democracy. This is our problem. Not the Chinese', or the Indians' and not the Americans' either. Everybody's. If you are human, you are responsible for the state of the planet going forward.
"I predict that everybody else will be irresponsible, so I don't have do do anything" is pretty childish. Even if the premise holds, the conclusion doesn't follow.
Update: Speaking of irresponsible, here is how this very article is summarized on Climate Depot:
Climate Fear Promoter's Moment of Clarity: Tobis cites 'solid arguments' as to why efforts aimed at preventing global warming 'ain't gonna happen'
'People in the 3rd World want running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, cars, heated and/or cooled homes'
Just what I said, right?
image from urbandigs.com