“On Being Pro-Active: Humanity’s Guilt for Climate Change” September 2011

Audio for “On Being Pro-Active: Humanity’s Guilt for Climate Change

WAMC for 9 22

Dr. Steven A. Leibo is the Sage Colleges Professor of International History & Politics

There is something, I have never understood about the entire climate crisis debate. Sure, the science itself was initially a major challenge. I was, after all I trained mostly in the social sciences. Frankly it took years to get comfortable not just learning about the changes in our global atmosphere brought about by the enormous amount of fossil fuel gases we are spewing into the air but being able to teach about it in the context of a world often deliberately mislead about the topic.

And I was not terribly surprised that the fossil fuel industry has spent so much money and energy trying to confuse people about the issue. I mean folks like them did the exact same thing over issues from cigarettes and cancer to the weakening of the ozone layer. So one can certainly understand why people would spend enormous sums to protect future fossil fuel profits. And, while changing light bulbs and buying hybrid cars is terribly important. We all know that only governments have the power to create regulatory environments that can discourage fossil fuels and while building up the green energy infrastructure needed to stave off the worst of climate change.

So it is not surprising that those who prefer ideology to reality, those who think that government can never play a positive role in the economy would jump on the it’s not happening bandwagon. And, the fact that so many remain in denial seems understandable as well. We are, after all a species better at dealing with challenges that seem more immediate like a hungry lion we might spot in our peripheral vision than long term crises like a changing climate. Because as so many of us understand in so many of its discrete aspects the climate crisis seems —– if you can’t connect the dots, the dots from Irene to those Texas fires —- Not all that different from the usual run of calamities we muck our way.

But, what I don’t understand is all this enthusiasm for the idea that while the planet maybe warming we are not causing the problem, the idea that somehow, despite all the contrary scientific evidence it’s supposedly all caused by the sun.

Or again, contrary to all the contrary scientific evidence, that it’s all cause by volcanoes. I mean frankly, I am delighted that we are causing the problem. Delighted that we, not the sun, not volcanoes, are at the heart of the increasingly weird weather we are experiencing as we so obviously evolve toward a climate mix so different from the one within which created human civilization.

I mean since, local folks seem destined for more tropical storms Albany to Vermont, more crop lands turning into deserts in the Southwest and more of Texas simply burning down. If we are destined to see more tropical diseases flowing north and health problems like asthma dramatically enhanced, I for one am awfully glad we are causing. Glad because, well, I am a rather pro-active guy.

And, I am not sure what I would do if our changing weather patterns really were being caused by the sun. I mean, let’s get real here. If we were dealing with runaway global warming caused by the sun what could we do? Just keep retreating from the rising waters, use all our energy to become survivalists as civilization as we know it winds down?

I mean I rather like the idea that we are the cause because that way we at least have the option to fight back, to change our ways. Which is why I am particularly excited about this weekend’s Moving Planet global event organized by our good neighbors in Vermont. Yes, an effort that will see people taking to bikes across the planet to show that we don’t have to be so dependent on fossil fuels for transportation. Yes a series of very impressive efforts from Huston, Texas to Kinshasa in the Congo. From Ho Chi Minh City to Bangalore, India, from North Adams to Utica. From New Haven to Hartford. All ready this Saturday to take our fate into our own bicycle grip tightened hands

About Steven Leibo

This entry was posted in American Politics, The Climate Crisis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Commentaries. Bookmark the permalink.

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