Wednesday, April 6, 2022

If Only They'd Listen

As if it isn’t already obvious, we’ve received another warning from climate researchers that we’re heading toward an “unlivable world.” Timely, a letter-writer to this paper recently threatened to cancel her subscription because of its coverage of climate change. Weather has always had “ups and downs,” she wrote. And, by golly, as I began this column, the sunny sky darkened and there was a flash of lightning, followed by a thunderous downpour. The temperature dropped four degrees in a minute. And now there’s some blue sky again. She’s right!

And she correctly thinks climate alarmism is about cashing in. But she suspects the wrong people. It’s not Governor Inslee, ma’am. It’s oil companies and their wholly-owned Congresspeople, who’ve unalarmed you. 

Deviating from the norm, she omitted the well-petrolated trope that in the ‘70s scientists were predicting another ice age. For one thing, it was a small minority of scientists. For another, the effects of greenhouse gases were less-well understood back then. And such a reversal over fifty years pretty much proves how fast the climate is changing. Unlike Trump’s lies and Fox’s “news,” science evolves with new information.

Likely, she’s a nice lady; loves her grandkids, if she has some, as much as I love mine. If so, why hasn’t she made the effort to become informed? Her children and theirs will be the ones who’ll suffer. Are there news media in Hell? Forced to watch MSNBC forever to see what they’d done would be well-deserved eternal punishment for Foxophilic deniers. 

Though the window for action is closing fast, there’s good news: education is still possible. Also, bad news: it requires turning off right-wing media and pretty much every elected Republican. And reading honest sources

So strong is the evidence, the predictions wrong only to the extent they underestimated speed and severity, it’s starting to look like all climate-change deniers are on the take, paid-off by crude CEOs and petro-dictators. We know Trump is in the sack with Putin, but by now one wonders even about denialist letter-writers to this paper. Ignorance neither excuses nor explains it anymore. Any reason is depressing, but which is worse: that people are terminally gullible, ignorant by choice, born without information-processing ability, or simply I-don’t-care greedy? What other explanation can there be?

Climate-change denial is on a par with another letterer on the same day, who still thinks Trump won and that evidence of Russian electoral assistance is a “patently false narrative.” How, one wonders, does he dismiss this undisguised admission on Russian TV

But let’s believe Trumpublicans that climate change is a hoax. Thanks to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, we’re seeing the consequences of a world dependent on predatory, dictatorial countries that produce fossil fuels. Even as Putin commits genocidal war crimes, those countries refuse to condemn him. We’re still selling weapons to some, and buying their oil. 

How much closer might we be to permanent energy independence if Trump hadn’t undone everything President Obama did to promote renewable energy? In fact, like most everything wrong with today’s Republican party, that damaging trend started with Saint Ronnie, as he did the same to President Carter’s efforts to reduce the need for oil fifty years ago.

Even if climate change weren’t threatening life on Earth, fossil fuels will run out eventually. The cost of renewables is rapidly coming down and efficiencies are increasing. What might the price of gas be today if Carter’s and Obama’s intentions hadn’t been quashed? In Snohomish County, 98% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. There’s no good argument against aiming for it for all of America. Think of the jobs it’d create.

It’s a good bet, too, that the problems of nuclear waste will be solved, making nuclear power highly attractive. Meanwhile, we know of several golf courses on the east coast and in Scotland, Ireland, Bali, and Dubai where it could be stored.

Yes, there remain significant issues with renewables. Birds killed, for one. Storage of energy when the sun and wind are off duty, for another. But in both areas, things are looking up. Something as simple as painting windmills differently is making a difference. Spinning towers instead of mills are promising, too. And, like computer storage from a few years ago till now, battery technology is evolving energetically. Lighter, denser, cheaper. Using current tech, some homes in the US are solar-electric 24/7. It’ll only get better.

Bombarded constantly with disinformation, we can sympathize with the letter-lady. But it only takes a moment to consider who benefits and who loses from continued use of fossil fuels to realize what’s going on.


  1. This month, I am celebrating the 20th birthday of my beloved Camry. She's got all the bells and whistles I never thought I'd need or want. Power windows and seats. Sunroof. 6 CD changer. 6 speakers for said stereo. 6 airbags. Legroom for days and what I lovingly call a 3 body trunk. Think Sopranos. She has 135,000 miles and is a regular visitor at Z-Sport for checkups, and because of that, I've had to replace or repair very few things. She will be my last vehicle. When she stops running for me, I will become an Uber devotee.

    I can have prescriptions and groceries delivered, as well as fabric, which I need no more of. I'm sure there are other items and destinations I'm not thinking about yet that I'll want access to, but I made myself a promise about my vehicle and I'm going to keep it. My carbon footprint is pretty small.

    Apparently, there was a hearing yesterday in which the oil company executives were questioned about pricing of gas. Of course, it ain't their fault because they don't set prices. Right. I haven't watched it yet, but I hope very much that Katie Porter was there with her white board. Americans of the Fox-O-Circus bent seem happily and defiantly ignorant. When did it become popular to be stupid? They admire their obstinance the way large think-tanks admired problems that needed solving. Why can't the smart people drown out the dummies?

    I never gave my beautiful Camry a name, but when she goes to her final reward, I might need to call y'all for a ride here or there.

    1. I'll drive you anywhere, MEH, in my electric car. And keeping a gas car for twenty years is at least as good as buying a new EV.

    2. When did it become popular to be stupid? [...] Why can't the smart people drown out the dummies?

      Apologies in advance if you meet your spiritual needs through one, but I blame such religious bodies as teach that knowledge is the root of all evil and that ignorance is the only true virtue.

    3. Hi Neo! No, I receive no spiritual sustenance from religion. That was full and truly drummed out of my brain, after having spent my first 20-something years having it beaten in! I remained quiet and respectful out of deference to my parents, to whom it was so important, but for at least 40 years I have seen religion as hypocrisy. I like facts. I like fact-based knowledge. I am a proud heathen.

  2. Thanks for writing this column. We need louder alarm bells, loud enough to drown out the liars, Fox News and the Trumpublican "party". The body of scientific evidence continues to grow and the majority of it seems to be worse than anyone previously thought. So I don't believe that there will be sufficient or timely corrective action. We are now witnessing the early stage of another extinction event on this planet.

    I like how you've made use of the letter writer. It brought to mind the research ( ) that was recently in the news concerning the media's effect on beliefs. Had she been included in the group that was exposed to CNN, she might well have experienced a temporary change in her thinking and been surprised at that.

    I think that your sentence in the second paragraph, ""For another, the effects of greenhouse gases were less-well understood back then."", is itself likely to be misunderstood. It may leave the impression that the greenhouse effect itself was poorly understood, rather than what I think you mean, i.e., its effects on climate, weather, life, commerce, etc.

    This article helps to avoid that misinterpretation:

    I hope that the letter writer replies to you, or that she responds to the Herald. It would be interesting to know her reaction.


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