Unfortunately most of this talk is muffled from the sand that fills our mouths as we bury our heads in the muffling material as a way to avoid becoming conscious of the reality of the situation we face. Erik Lindberg’s piece titled: Six Myths About Climate Change that Liberals Rarely Question provides us with an opportunity to pull our heads from the sand and begin to really think about what we need to do to address climate change. The full text is available here. Some excerpts from his “sixth myths” of denial follow:
Myth #1: Liberals Are Not In Denial
[…] liberal denial […] the belief that we can avoid the most catastrophic levels of climate disruption without changing our fundamental way of life. This is myth is based on errors that are as profound and basic as the conservative denial of climate change itself.
[…] conservatives climate deniers understand that addressing climate change will, in fact, change our way of life, a way of life which conservatives often view as sacred. This sort of change is so terrifying and unthinkable to them, she argues, that they cut the very possibility of climate change off at its knees: fighting climate change would force us to change our way of life; our way of life is sacred and cannot be questioned; ergo, climate change cannot be happening.
We have a situation, then, where one half of the population says it is not happening, and the other half says it is happening but fighting it doesn’t have to change our way of life.
Myth #2: Republicans are Still More to Blame
It is true that conservative politicians in the United States and Europe have been intent on blocking international climate agreements; but by focusing on these failed agreements, which only require a baby-step in the right direction, liberals obliquely side-step the actual cause of global warming—namely, burning fossil fuels. The denial of climate change isn’t responsible for the fact that we, in the United States, are responsible for about one quarter of all current emissions if you include the industrial products we consume (and an even greater percentage of all emissions over time), even though we make up only 6% of the world’s population. Our high-consumption lifestyles are responsible for this. Republicans do not emit an appreciably larger amount of carbon dioxide than Democrats.
Myth #3: Renewable Energy Can Replace Fossil Fuels
Conventional wisdom among American liberals assures us that we would be well on our way to a clean, green, low-carbon, renewable energy future were it not for the lobbying efforts of big oil companies and their Republican allies. The truth is far more inconvenient than this: it will be all but impossible for our current level of consumption to be powered by anything but fossil fuels. The liberal belief that energy sources such as wind, solar, and biofuels can replace oil, natural gas, and coal is a mirror image of the conservative denial of climate change: in both cases an overriding belief about the way the world works, or should work, is generally far stronger than any evidence one might present. Denial is the biggest game in town. Denial, as well as a misunderstanding about some fundamental features of energy, is what allows someone like Bill Gates assume that “an energy miracle” will be created with enough R & D. Unfortunately, the lessons of microprocessors do not teach us anything about replacing oil, coal, and natural gas.
Myth 4: The Coming “Knowledge Economy” Will be a Low-Energy Economy
We like to pretend that the rest of the world can live like us, and we have certainly done our best to advertise, loan, seduce, and threaten people across the world to adopt our style, our values, and our wants. But someone still has to do the smelting, the welding, the sorting, and run the ceaseless production lines.
And, moreover, if everyone lived like we do, took our vacations, drove our cars, ate our food, lived in our houses, filled them with oversized TVs and the endless array of throwaway gadgetry, the world would use four times as much energy and emit nearly four times as much carbon dioxide as it does now. If even half the world’s population were to consume like we do, we would have long since barreled by the ecological point of no-return.
Myth 5: We can Reverse Global Warming Without Changing our Current Lifestyles
The upshot of the previous sections is that the comforts, luxuries, privileges, and pleasures that we tell ourselves are necessary for a happy or satisfying life are the most significant cause of global warming and that unless we quickly learn to organize our lives around another set of pleasures and satisfactions, it is extremely unlikely that our children or grandchildren will inherit a livable planet. Because we are falsely reassured by liberal leaders that we can fight climate change without any inconvenience, it bears repeating this seldom spoken truth. In order to adequately address climate change, people in rich industrial nations will have to reduce current levels of consumption to levels few are prepared to consider. This truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
Myth 6: There is Nothing I Can Do
The problem is daunting; making changes can be difficult. But not only can you do something, you can’t not do anything. Either you will continue to buy, use, and consume as if there is no tomorrow; or you will make substantial changes to the way you live.