Reality versus fantasy: Climate change is real. It has been with us for eons.
Think of droughts. The Southwest has a documented cycle of droughts. The Anasazi/Chaco culture collapsed in part due to a decadeslong megadrought. About the same time, the Mayan culture collapsed in part due to changing weather patterns, aka climate change. Six thousand years ago, the Sahara was a verdant grassland until the climate changed. The megadrought of the 1950s decimated the cattle industry in Texas and changed the culture of that state. The droughts of the 1930s and the resulting Dust Bowl caused migrations out of the Midwest to California, thus changing the cultures of both areas.
Or, there are ice ages. Europe experienced the Medieval Warm Period (950 to 1250) followed by the “little ice age” (from about 1300 to about 1850). Then there was the “year without summer,” the result of the April 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies. This eruption put massive amounts of aerosols in the atmosphere, demonstrating the assertions of today’s scientists about how the atmosphere affects climate. This resulted in crop failures in New England, Europe, India and China, and resulted in famine and death.
The question we should be looking at is how much our impact might be accelerating normal cyclic changes. Climate change is real, and the failure to accept this fact and deal with it is in part why the New York subway system is flooded again and New Mexico chile farmers are facing water shortages. Who is planning for next year?
That’s reality. The fantasy is the unstated belief that reducing carbon emissions will return things to normal — if there ever was a normal. Humans have had a major impact on the global environment. An analogy to this delusion is the assumption that if it stops raining and flooding, my house will be dry just like before. If we achieve net-zero emissions, there will be no flooded subways, the Colorado River will flow full and the Rio Grande silvery minnow will thrive.
We need to come to grips with reality. There won’t be enough water for farmers in New Mexico and Arizona. San Diego will have to suck it up and pay for desalinization of seawater while dealing with environmentalists who object to discharging brine back into the ocean. I’m not sure what will happen to Las Vegas, Nev. What will Santa Fe do when there is no water to be diverted and we’ve pumped the aquifer dry? One only has to look at the central valley of California for examples.
People seem to think if we just stop producing carbon dioxide, we will be saved. We don’t talk about the methane from flaring oil wells because the energy industry has us focused on methane from cows. Politicians won’t face the problem because it means increasing taxes for infrastructure: flood barriers, waste water treatment and desalinization plants. We hope the auto industry will solve the problem but are neglecting to ask where will all the electricity come from? Really?
Twenty years ago, I was involved in PrepCon IV as a lead-up to the Rio Conference. The big thing then was saving the rainforests. Developing countries (dictators) wanted the G7 to give them money to save their forests. Today the forests are still being clearcut, and now those countries want money to cut their carbon emissions. In 20 years, the only change has been we are talking about carbon and not trees.