Ho-Hum to a Climate ‘Point of no Return’

I mean really, how often are we going to scream that there’s a hole in the dike? We’ve known for half a century—although no one really gave a damn—that the health of the planet was in danger.

António Guterres is hot under the collar

Know who he is? I thought not. The name didn’t immediately strike a chord with me either. Oh yeah, the United Nations guy. “We are coming to a point of no return,” he says.

Before meeting the leaders of the world’s major economic powers at the G7 summit in the UK, António Guterres said he was concerned that the richest nations have pumped billions of dollars more into fossil fuels than clean energy since the pandemic, despite their promises of a green recovery.

Concerned, is he? How about pants on fire?

Fifty years ago in Chicago we had to shut down the Chicago Gun Club, a lakefront trap and skeet-shooting club, because lead from shotgun shells was collecting in Lake Michigan. I used to shoot skeet there.

That’s the small story. The larger story is that during the studies related to what lead shot was doing to the lake, it was discovered that the lead content in playgrounds was so toxic that kids were in danger of brain damage. This was the 1970s and the culprit was tailpipe emissions from leaded gasoline. Who knew? Without the gun club issue, Chicago might never have done the testing.

We did something about both problems

Leaded gasoline was banned and the city parks were deep-plowed and re-seeded, so a kid sliding into 2nd base wasn’t drawing lead from the soil and breathing it. We outlawed lead shot, replacing it with steel so bottom-feeding birds wouldn’t get lead-poisoning.

But burning coal, oil and gas for power generation? Ah well, we’re still thinking about that and have been for thirty years.

Back to Tony Guterres and the UN

“I’m more than disappointed, I’m worried about the consequences,” Guterres told the Guardian at the UN headquarters in New York, as part of a Covering Climate Now consortium of interviews alongside NBC News and El Pais. “We need to make sure we reverse the trends, not maintain the trends. It’s now clear we are coming to a point of no return.

“To spend these trillions of dollars and not use this occasion to reverse the trends and massively invest in the green economy will be an unforgivable lost opportunity.”

Well you’re right about that Tony, but we’re going to lose it, at least in America. You see, we don’t lead the world anymore.

America pissed away its leadership in wars we can’t win, promises we haven’t the strength to keep and unending criticism of our closest allies. We’re the richest nation in the world, but we’ve allowed ourselves to become an old, toothless junkyard-dog .

It was once otherwise, I remember those times

We mobilized the world’s greatest engineering and manufacturing effort when the attack on Pearl Harbor brought us into World War Two.

That was 1941, but there is no Pearl Harbor on the climate disaster. No air attack, bombs bursting, anti-aircraft guns chattering and ships sunk in billowing clouds of smoke.

All we have is oceans dying peacefully, the greatest land-species die-off in human history, a North Pole you can (and do) use as a shipping lane and unprecedented fires, followed by floods and mud-slides.

But it still snows occasionally in Washington and Texas had a cold-spell that darkened the entire state. So, what’s all this talk of warming? What the hell is the UN Secretary General bitching about this time?

The United States Congress, who could actually have done something about our loss of world leadership is dominated in both parties by old, greedy, comfortable white men who have been bought and paid for like baubles on a Christmas tree. They’ll all die comfortably in a warm bed, coddled to the end by the most outrageous health-care system on the planet. Their feet will never get wet in a rising sea and they frankly don’t give a shit about their grandchildren.

America could be totally solar-powered in five years

That is if our Congress decided to get off their ass and pass some laws, build American solar-panel factories, upgrade the electric grid and mandate both public and private switch-overs from fossil fuels to solar. Pay incentives to go solar.

But that would piss-off some very big political donors and, “c’mon, you know how expensive it is to get elected these days. I’ve been a politician all my life and if I don’t get re-elected I’ll have to go out in the world and get a job and I don’t know nothin’ more than greasin’ a skid and goin’ along to get along.”

I understand, Lindsey. It’s tough out there and your not as young as you were when you first became an asshole.

We will be the first species to disappear by suicide

Writer Kurt Vonnegut claimed that humans were the victims of their big brain and I suppose he was right. So many species have disappeared from the earth, but none so far as I know accomplished the feat with such generous and careful forethought.

We humans will assure our own extinction by nodding our way off to the mall for some shiny piece of crap we don’t need and can’t use, while the seas rise above our ankles and California burns down and mud-slides away for the umpteenth time.

Martha, I read on the internet that California has mostly slid into the sea and half the world now is uninhabitable. Did you see that?”

Really? I just haven’t the slightest idea what everyone’s so uptight about these days, Charles. Gives me the willies.”

But there’s a Big Brain distribution problem

Vonnegut missed that factor. Just having a big brain isn’t enough. Like any muscle, a brain has to be exercised to work properly and we as a species are bad at that. We’re lazy and distracted and getting lazier and more distracted by the minute. The mental workout-gym we call science has been giving us warnings for decades. But they haven’t been able to swim against the tide of soothing consumerism. Shittier schools, but better, squishier sofas in front of the TV.

Now I hate to drag out an ‘ism’ to blame, but I don’t know where else to go. Advertising has us in thrall and somehow we feel deep down inside (probably right next to our stomach) that Elon Musk is going to save the planet with an electric car. All we have to do is buy a Tesla and we’re home free.

Does anyone know if Amazon carries Teslas?


Image Credit: Insurance Journal

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