Climate Skeptic Part 6 – Can We Stop Climate Change?
Part 6 of 7 – Continued From Part 5
Authors: Amber Bieg, Deb LaSalle, Zach Bell, Heather Colwell, Kevin Winslow, Jay Schuyler, Alaina Sisco, Mitch Samson
Can We Stop Climate Change?
Regarding climate change and GHG emissions, many of the world’s leading scholars and scientists agree the Earth is either already at or near the point of no return. We could have acted in 1988 at the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere mentioned earlier, but we didn’t. We could have acted when we learned CO2 levels had risen to 350 ppm, but we didn’t.
The World Meteorological Organization recently announced that GHG gas concentrations are at a record high and increased faster than average in 2020 despite a near-global lockdown due to the pandemic. Even the Amazon Forest region, which long has acted as the world’s carbon “sink,” now is a net carbon emitter due to deforestation. So, can we really solve it?
We firmly believe that answer is yes: Humans created this scenario, and we have the ingenuity, tools, and resources to reverse it. Consider the (in)famous ozone hole that regularly opens and closes over the Antarctic. Nearly 40 years ago, scientists concluded that ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were a primary culprit and, in 1987, the Montreal Protocol banned their production. After a series of starts and stops (and illegal production of CFCs found coming from China), the ozone hole now has been mostly “healed,”  and is back to the levels recorded in the 1980s.
Why Are We Dragging Our Feet?
Largely due to misinformation, the debate over climate change has been highly politicized, particularly in the U.S. This is despite the fact that it negatively affects everyone across the political spectrum. The money behind climate denialism is directly linked to groups that profit from the fossil fuel industry.  This is not a conspiracy theory, but it definitely is a conspiracy. The reporting is solid and the numbers are there: countries and companies that heavily profit from petroleum and coal have a strong interest in climate change denialism. Russia, deriving much of its wealth from petroleum reserves, is well known for instigating theories debunking climate change, aiming at political conservatives already skeptical of the scientific community.
In their 2013 book, Disinformation, authors Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlack describe how the Russian government uses misinformation to win political and economic battles. Or consider Fiona Hill’s 2021 book, There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century. In it, Hill describes how the Russian government manipulates American conservatives into playing politics for Russian economic and power agendas. Her credentials? Hill is a former official with the U.S. National Security Council appointed by Trump and specializes in Russian affairs.
And perhaps it simply boils down to the human tendency to resist change – we struggle to change our behavior until it’s too late. Like the frog in the proverbial pot of boiling water, we think “it can wait.” The sayings “passing the buck” or “kicking the can down the road” also are relevant here. This is something Americans (and the entire world) do well. Consider all the things we as a nation are leaving to “the next generation”: The soaring national debt and problems with Social Security funding are two easy examples. Currently, there is much hand wringing over how — or even if — we are to pay for our crumbling infrastructure.
Do We Really Disagree on Climate Change?
Politics and/or distrust of science create a divide over climate change. However, despite the bickering between our friends and neighbors on social media, recent polls suggest much of the public not only believes in climate change but agrees that fossil fuel interests shoulder the blame. As it turns out, it’s just the noise of politics that we see in the media. When you ask Americans, it turns out that they actually believe that climate change is a problem – because they are experiencing it. A recent YouGov poll showed that 69 percent of respondents believe in global warming, and over 60 percent said oil and gas companies were “completely or mostly responsible.”  Another poll, driven by the Associated Press, showed similar results. In it, the majority of Americans agreed that “the pace of global warming is speeding up.” Another (albeit slim) majority said Congress should move to ensure more of our nation’s energy comes from “clean” resources and less from fossil fuels.
In a recent and very interesting twist, even Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. conglomerate is now doing an about-face on climate change. For years, Murdoch’s Fox News flagship has been an ardent climate change denier and a powerful force for misinformation and outright denial of facts. The Australian-born Murdoch has directed his media holdings in that country to embark on a climate change campaign dubbed “missionzero2050.” The campaign calls for a significant reduction in GHG emissions and aims to put Australia on a path to “a net zero future.” The primary driver of the campaign? Money. It turns out that there is a LOT of money to be made in the renewable energy transition.
 BBC. Ozone layer ‘rescued’ from CFC damage. Feb. 11, 2021
 Yale Climate Connections. Fossil fuel political giving outdistances renewables 13 to one. Jan. 6, 2020
 The Guardian. Revealed: 60% of Americans say oil firms are to blame for the climate crisis. Oct. 26, 2021
 The Associated Press. Majority in US concerned about climate: AP-NORC/EPIC poll. Oct. 26, 2021
 The Conversation. What’s behind News Corp’s new spin on climate change? Oct. 18, 2021