Contributed by Tim Johnson
My father was from fly-over country. He had only an eighth-grade education, but he would not have voted for a presidential candidate who invited a dictator to hack American's emails. Dad had a genius for submitting profound truth in a simple, politically incorrect and earthy manner. One of his most astute sayings was, “When sniffing for BS, make sure to point your nose to the right and to the left 'cuz the stink will come from both directions.”
This metaphor is equally appropriate to the discussion of global climate change. Consider cows: They poop and then lie in their own excrement. They are herd animals who follow an alpha member without question. Those who subscribe unthinkingly to a political identity and then allow that identity to do their thinking for them are like herd animals. The boss cows go to the left or to the right, the herd follows.
Like cattle, mankind lies in its own waste. If the discharge is not cleaned up, mankind will end itself. Dinosaurs were unable to adapt and they are gone. Mankind must adapt or die.
I must apologize to ostriches. These feathered friends do not stick their heads in the sand. They wouldn't be able to breathe! But the metaphor of humans beings stupider than ostriches conjures up an image of whole herds of folks with their butts in the air and their heads below their toes.
Indeed, there is an overwhelming majority assessment from scientists that human activity is accelerating global climate change. There has also been an equally overwhelming amount of money and propaganda spent to oppose this position. Much of the money is dark money attributed to the petroleum industry. That would include carbon creators such as Koch Industries. The propaganda comes from pundits of the Media Right and is unquestionably welcomed by many good conservatives who are eager to follow their right-wing boss cows.
I suppose that I have piqued my conservative friends by now. And I hear my liberal friends applauding. Such applause would be premature. The herd instinct is human nature, regardless of philosophy. A great example of left-leaning herd behavior is the recent Dakota Access Pipeline protest.
Non-carbon-based alternative energy sources are making gains, however that progress is inversely proportional to the price of oil. Low oil prices such as is the case in December of 2016 reduce the economic incentives for alternative energy.
Leftist solutions emphasize political and regulatory action. Such solutions are the stuff of dinosaurs – they aren't adaptive. As our government replaces a lecturer-in-chief with a tweeter-in-chief, much of the political and regulatory forces of the previous administration will die off in a mass extinction.
I believe that the carbon emission creators themselves might be part of the solution. It is likely that many carbon emission creators – with scientific backgrounds themselves – secretly believe in the links between carbon emissions and climate change. They oppose political solutions that they believe will affect their bottom line.
So the carbon emission creators, who are already job creators, could be the ones who innovate to stem the tide of climate change – and they may create more jobs. David and Charles Koch are the sons of Fred Koch who developed the petroleum infrastructure in Russia – which is still being used by the tweeter's buddy, Vladimir. Could they be the Henry Fords of an emerging technology of planetary climate control? (And yes, there will be side effects, as in any technology.)
The Ford assembly lines put a lot of carriage makers out of business, and they had to adapt. But if we don't stop being dinosaurs and pull our heads out of the sand, we face a mass extinction.
Consider food production: Writers such as Robert Malthus and Paul Erlich famously predicted worldwide famine should population growth outstrip farm production. Although there is famine in parts of the world today, it is primarily from political causes. Because of technological and industrial innovation, farm production has kept up (so far) with population growth. And yes, there are side effects.
Climate change can and has led to greater violence. The Syrian Civil War was touched off in part by climate change. In-migration from drought-stricken rural areas contributed to unrest. In India, a great amount of the Ganges River is supplied by glaciers that now are shrinking. Sea levels in the Ganges Delta are rising. A billion people could be affected by a drying river and a rising ocean.
That will affect America.
The argument about human activity and global climate change is close to being moot. Climate change needs to be dealt with. Or we will leave nothing but fossils.