Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Americans Don’t Give A Damn About Global Warming


On Tuesday the President laid out his plan to end-run the Congress and allow the EPA to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal plants. The plan didn’t get much attention in the press because the Supremes were very busy this week eviscerating the Voting Rights act and letting gays get married in California.

You can find an informed discussion of the plan at the Wonkblog, from which I took this chart.

Falling short. Emissions have fallen off considerably since 2007 because of weak economic growth and fuel switching (coal to natural gas).

On the eve of the President’s speech, the almost-completely-useless Pew Research Center released the results of a poll on international threats.

40% of Americans see climate change as a global threat. That’s the lowest percentage in the world.

I can personally attest to the lack of interest in the climate. Traffic to DOTE always goes down when I talk about global warming, especially when I put it in the title like I did today.

Also note that human destruction of life in the oceans didn’t even make the list, as we would expect. On the other hand, the nuclear programs of North Korea (59% of Americans) and Iran (54% of Americans) did. That tells you all you need to know about the Human Prospect right there.

Obama has run in the last election of his political career, so there’s no penalty for him personally to take a “strong” position on climate change. Not too strong, though. He said building the Keystone Pipeline would depend on whether doing so would “significantly exacerbate” global emissions. However, the State Department had already concluded that the pipeline is a wash emissions-wise. Predictably, Obama’s initiative got the usual criticisms from the political Right — it’s a war on coal, etc.

The president’s proposals will be challenged in the courts and the Congress for years to come. Nothing much will happen.

And what is the point of all this nonsense? The point is that this political back-and-forth is more than likely the best humans can do about global environmental problems which they themselves created, not only here in the United States but elsewhere as well. The fact that most Americans don’t give a damn about global warming is merely another factor driving further procrastination, which is understandable because political wrangling is a Black Hole from which no genuine solution to a real problem has ever escaped. Once the climate issue became politicized, lack of effective, concerted action on the issue was guaranteed.

That’s depressing isn’t it? But that’s how humans work.

And of course I have tried over and over again on DOTE to explore the deep roots of our inability to confront and solve these kinds of self-created global problems.

I myself am extremely depressed, and I can’t decide whether writing this blog alleviates that depression or makes it worse. I thought there was some benefit in pointing out human limitations, but now I’m not so sure. Such confusion naturally arises from the depression itself.

Have a nice weekend.

Bonus Video — Aimee Mann can hardly believe how her life turned out. Except for a few minor details, she could be talking about me writing DOTE — “I can’t believe I’m doing what I’m doing!”

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