peristaltor: (Accuse!)
[personal profile] peristaltor
I have a small problem with studies like this one:

Dr Jesse Preston in the Department of Psychology has demonstrated that people are often negatively affected by climate change helplessness — the belief that climate change is so massive and terrifying, as to be out of our personal control, and that our actions are too small to help.

This feeling of helplessness, however, makes people less likely to bother with individual eco-friendly actions – and actually leads to higher energy consumption.

Here's a question: How are people "who bother with eco-friendly actions" likely to do a damned thing about climate change?

This was the problem I had with Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the end credits, where silly words on the screen diminished the immensity of the problem the movie everyone had assumedly just seen to "replace your old light bulbs."

"Eco-friendly" actions will not reverse climate change. There, I said it. At least (I should clarify) the kind of "eco-friendly" actions like the study considers to be actually "eco-friendly." Sorry, Sunshine, but "driving less, hanging washing on the line instead of using the dryer, using less water, or turning the heating down" will not do a damned thing to take CO2 molecules out of our atmosphere.

Not a damned thing.

Am I being too curmudgeonly? Quite possibly. I am also correct, though, no matter what dismissive sneer word you might choose to diminish my statements.

Take the examples from the study I just mentioned. All of the goody-goody actions listed there will reduce the amount of carbon gas added to an atmosphere that should, at the current rate, cook our ecosystems back to an ice-free polar reality. That will flood our coastal cities, reduce most of our agricultural output, create deserts with unlivable heat indices, just to name a few Problems.

Oops. Let me correct myself. These and the other myriad changes we are likely to experience are not mere "problems," simply because "problems" can be solved. Climate changes cannot be solved, only adapted to. These changes are better termed "predicaments."

The only way to solve climate change is to return atmospheric CO2 concentrations to pre-industrial levels. To make a real difference, we would have to suck from the air and put into a non-gaseous form a majority of the carbon we released from constantly burning fossil fuels since about 1800. Oh, and here's a challenge to the challenge: currently, most of the ways to sequester gases requires the consumption of energy...which, let us remember, releases those same darned gases.

If that weepy fact makes folks forlorn and despondent, so be it. They'll get over it. Or not.

Me? When I had my OS moment (like the passenger handle in most cars, natch), I realized the simplistic and simple-minded approach (like the one advocated in the study, also natch) was faaar too, well, simple. We needed to have sources of energy that produced as a by-product carbon solids that were not likely to be re-released. So when I turned up the heat, some carbon got locked away in the thousand-year format vault. If an angel got its wings in the process, well then, ding-a-ling-a-lingy-ding away.

That way, every time a goody-goody who was totally not despondent about our date with Fucked Up used energy in order to drive, dry laundry or heat the house would at least sequester carbon in the process. Multiply that by others reducing their energy consumption by, sure, "driving less, hanging washing on the line instead of using the dryer, using less water, or turning the heating down", and we may have a gnat's chance of making headway in this coming hurricane.

But until that happens, perhaps it is best if we take off the Nerf gloves and started treating people and their oh so fra-GEE-lay feelings with the same care as the climate changes soon to face us will exhibit.

Which is also analogous to the care and consideration exhibited by a falling rock on the priceless ceramic figurines directly below.
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