Living in California, being aware of the climate weirding and its effects is not hard. The city of San Diego led many urban centers with its climate action plan. While admittedly they are still at the low hanging fruit stage of the game, they have been an example for cities around the world.
The state likewise, started the ball rolling with AB32 over a decade ago. Its goals are a tad less ambitious than the City of San Diego. The state is giving itself one extra decade from the city to decarbonize its economy, for example. But we are a having a serious problem. It is not the government plans. They may not be enough, but they exist. There is no denial of the matter at either state or local level. We likely will have to be far more aggressive in transforming the economy and leaving all fossils in the ground, and that is a discussion that needs to start yesterday, however. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it clearly, we have ten years.
The critical problem we have, and it is massive, is one of education.
Let me explain. And this taxi driver is symbolic of where we are as a nation. I would say, if we saw this as part of the grieving process, we are at the denial stage. As he drove me, the conversation came up, about electric vehicles. There is at this time what I consider an aspirational goal of transforming the global fleet to fully electric within twenty years. It should be faster, but that is another discussion.
His arguments against this change were reliability, which is increasing. The infrastructure to support charging. This one is also increasing. However, we are personally fighting to get a charging station where we live and are running into all sorts of walls. Then he told me that the technology is still requiring forty-eight hours to fully charge a car battery. I pointed out that a fast charger can do this in four, with current batteries. Then I raised the existence of the E-Circuit, which is a race circuit for electric cars. Just like with gasoline cars, this is being used to do test things like changing batteries on the fly.
When all argument was dead, but what about the oil companies, what are they going to do? So I pointed out that they have known this since the 1980s, and they chose to deflect and mount fear and doubt campaigns as tobacco did. And yes, ultimately fossil energy needs to stay in the ground.
This taxi driver is hardly alone. This kind of toxic, lack of imagination, thinking infects millions of people. It goes from boardrooms all the way to the streets. It is partly coming from a very substandard public education that has rejected science and facts. It also comes from a media that until a couple months ago, refused to even use the words climate change on air.
And I did pull the cheap card, “think about your son.” It is his future and planet. However we want to paint this, we are facing these kinds of attitudes. There was another thing in the conversation that not just me have noticed. Ten years out might as well be another lifetime. Humans are mostly incapable of imagining another future.
Which brings me to the President of the United States. The fourth report on climate change issued by the government, that he tried so hard to hide in between the mashed potatoes and the turkey over Thanksgiving weekend is apocalyptic. A reporter asked him (that cheap shot again) what about the economy? We are expecting a contraction of upwards of ten percent due to the effects of climate change…like this taxi driver, his words were “I don’t believe it.”
Granted, a taxi driver does not policy make. The president, on the other hand, does. That is why he has experts working for him. This is the same community that just put another research vessel on Mars. But the new talking point is not that it is not happening… it is that it cannot be this bad. Ergo, we are at the denial stage of grieving for our planet.
Some of us got over that a while ago. Why we try to do our part. See about that electric car. We got a hybrid after the battery packs freed the back seat, and still drive that car. We know that the resources they take, changing vehicles every three years is wasteful, so we drive them for as long as we can. And we are willing to take public transportation when possible.
But am aware that others need to join us. And some of it is fully dependent on not giving any air on news channels to flat earth proponents like Stephen Moore. These people may be good for short-term ratings, but they are very bad for the planet and species survival.
Incidentally, but our economy! It is going to change, in massive ways. That is also baked into this cake. Capitalism as we know it is on its last gasps. The outlines of a wholly new economic system are taking shape on the edges. And again, most people lack the imagination to foresee a world that will be different as well. As a planet, we have the technology and resources to make sure none goes hungry, and all are sheltered. Because of robotics and climate change, we will need to cross that bridge. It is that or unrest like we have not seen in decades.
We live in the kind of historic times that could lead to a major war because the forces that have benefited greatly from the status quo who are fighting these changes. Hence, we have had the rise of inverted totalitarianism in the United States and major parts of the west. It looks partly like fascism since it shares some elements. However, it is also different. It does involve the control by corporations of a lot of aspects. It is these corporations that will also fight this short-term, quarterly profits way of looking at the world.