Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Missive from a climate-change fear monger

Graphic credit: Cakeburger.com
I'm in a heated Facebook exchange at this very moment with one of those people who don't want to be thought of as a climate-change denier, choosing to position themselves instead as brave challengers of fear-mongering and political correctness. Oh, please.

Anyway, I've just been thinking that I'm now writing mini-blogs via my Facebook messages rather than here on my actual blog. While part of me likes the transitory nature of social media, it does make me worry that much of my writing these days is like so much dust in the wind blowing across a social media platform that I'm not even sure I like anymore.

So I'm going to glue that Facebook exchange right here, for posterity. Also because I want to make climate change my No. 1 topic for 2019. What other issue possibly matters more than saving the planet from human-caused emissions so that future generations have a healthy, happy place to live that isn't tearing itself apart with fires, freezing, wind storms, floods and massive crop failures?

Here's my original Facebook post from this morning. Admittedly, it establishes a challenging tone with the use of "idiot" that I know brings out the critics, and is not a good tone for public engagement. But hey, I am so done with being nice about this issue:

When exposed to idiot ramblings around climate change/carbon tax from politicians like Doug Ford or Andrew Scheer, remember this: Nothing about addressing climate change will be easy or painless. So what's it going to be - petty political sniping and self-serving arguments because hell, you'll be long gone by the time of reckoning, or saving the planet? Then I linked to this story.

Reply from my Facebook connection:

Hey, Jody, without being TOO contrary a few points…
1.) The accompanying photo is of steam. So what, you say? When I am to be alarmed about an impending apocalypse and recognize steam, it insults my intelligence.
Right from the get go I am being mislead.
2.) They are called greenhouse gases. What do we grow in greenhouses? Food. If I am to be frightened by an impending apocalypse why has an image of lush greenhouses, filled with food been conjured?
3.) The NDP, Champions of the Little People, have taken it upon themselves to use BC’s carbon taxes for general revenues. Why then would I trust ANY government to claim that carbon taxes are to save the planet.
I am not a denier.
But I am surprised by the numbers of people who believe in climate stasis.

To which I replied:

Point 1: I see no issue with illustrating the article with steam, as what we're really talking about with climate change is the use of energy. Whatever's going on with the steam in the photo, I am sure you'll agree that there is much energy being used in the process. I would personally prefer a photo depicting infrared heat loss from a residence, because we tend to get fixated on industry as the cause of climate change without ever accepting our own significant role. Point two: I believe "greenhouse gas" refers to the greenhouse effect caused by C02, not actual greenhouses. Point 3: This is not about politics. I am not trying to say that all will be well if we elect NDP governments. It just so happens that the most idiotic viewpoints seem to come from the Conservatives. This is an issue for the world, not for politics. I guess that's one of my major complaints - we should not be using planet survival as a political soapbox. Please read this:https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/energy-ghgs/20063

Responder then got into a short back-and-forth with another person, which ended with this other person thanking Responder for treating potted tomates well, which led to this post from him: 

ALL plants love CO2, The more CO2, the more plants. Science, botany in this case.

I replied:

Unfortunately, there is more than the happiness of plants at stake here. Climate change will destabilize all the things we take for granted - amount of rainfall, temperature extremes, wind extremes, capacity of wildfires, 100-year flood levels, crops that grow in different parts of the world, people's ability to work outside in areas of rising/falling temperatures, effects on weather from our poles, political stability, migrant movement, resource allocation. Seriously, M, perhaps you're not a denier, but you're certainly being contrarian without offering up any meaningful argument. Why do that?

His reply:

Well, I take exception to the outcome being an apocalypse. You mention 100 year flood levels. Given that the planet's geologic history shows us that the planet's mean temperatures are far higher than they are now and that atmospheric CO2 levels were far higher than they are now and that there were no polar ice caps, glaciers, even snow an apocalypse is not what comes to mind. A 100 year time frame is nothing. Also where did all this organic carbon come from in the first place? It came from that time of high temps, high CO2 and a planet covered in jungle. Canada's Arctic has 30% more vegetation now than it did in 1986 (NASA). The Sahara desert is shrinking (National Geographic). I do not see an impending apocalypse, I see a new Garden of Eden, an unfortunate analogy perhaps as I am not a Christian, but a world of much increased vegetation (read: happy plants, read: food). As well, plants are carbon sinks, more plants, less CO2. I grow weary of the fear-mongering. So... why do YOU perpetuate the fear?

To which I replied:

Believe me, I'm occasionally tempted by the idea of an alternate life in which I skip right over the big issues that scare me and just get on with a cheerfully ignorant life. That must be so much more relaxing. It does require that you shut your thinking skills down, however, so I'm not interested. I've worked alongside a number of UVic climate scientists in my work over the past couple of years. I read the IPCC report. I've researched, pondered, listened. And you know, it's looking pretty certain that human-caused GHG emissions are the problem. People can distract from that by talking about plant health or the way of the Earth throughout history, and I accept both of those points. We've been through ice ages and dinosaur ages and amazingly tropical ages, but let's be honest - those all must have been pretty bad experiences for whatever was alive and thriving under the previous conditions, wouldn't you say? What we're talking about is a wholesale change in everything that humans alive today thought they could count on. You can't just walk like Pollyanna into that scenario. Who knows if it's the apocalypse, but there are going to be fundamental changes happening at profoundly important-to-life levels that will affect every person on the planet. And here we are, still talking about whether it's happening. I'm not going to be one of those people wasting energy trying to convince those people. But yes, I'm going to be out here more and more with my fear-mongering, because I have children and grandchildren who need me to be doing that on their behalf.

Respondent's salvo:

I should add I have a degree in botany, B.Sc. from UVIC, '85. And with that bombshell, I've made my point.

And that's where we're at as I write this. If you have important points about climate change to add to this post because you care deeply about the issue and have put a lot of thought and research into it, I hope you will share those with me so I can deepen my own knowledge.

I'm fine with hearing from the deniers, too, of course. But from now I'm just going to send them these responses so I don't waste even a minute more time that could be going to actually addressing the problems. 


e.a.f. said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You and Welcome Back to Blogging. RossK over at the Gazetteer is giving us all a heads up. Don't do Face Book because from the get go thought it would invade our privacy. So welcome back!

Great topic to write on this year. We all need to get on board with dealing with climate change. its here to stay and if we don't deal with it, we won't be staying here nor will most of the living things on this earth. By the time things great very difficult on earth, I'll be dead but my friends' grandchildren won't be nor will their grandchildren's children. It worries me. I'd like to think they could have the same quality of life I had as a child. Don't even get me started on how some children will never have a decent life because of climate change.

Some climate change deniers say, climate has changed over time, and that is true. However, this time the climate is being changed by humans and how we treat the earth and its atmosphere. We might also want to take care of as much of this planet as we can in case one of those unexpected events, which naturally change the climate happens. its sort of like being prepared for an emergency.

we need governments to put people first and corporations and their profits second. Corporations can continue to make profits if they change with the times.

Some times it will be as simple as purchasing locally grown food or buying less. Like who needs a t.v. in every room and a new cell phone and computer every year. My take on helping the environment is spending less on things we don't need. Given the level of debt we carry around from spending too much, people may actually save a lot of money. Fifteen years ago, decided not to drive my car on Mondays. it was a start. (o.k. I'm retired and it was easy but now driving about twice a week instead of most days)

Again thank you for coming back to the blog world.

Jody Paterson said...

Well, thanks for such an enthusiastic welcome! I've felt terrible about ignoring my blog. I don't know what happened. I think I've been devastated by Trump and it all just felt so pointless. But climate change and sex workers' rights - they still call me. Thanks for encouraging me. Facebook manipulates feeds so much, it's a lousy place to be wasting my thoughts.

e.a.f. said...

Your thoughts are much to valuable to be wasted on Face Book. with the blogs, people get used to reading and checking them regularly, hence I believe a larger audience. My morning ritual, is check the e-mails, then the B.C. Blogs, then Montreal Simon, then the American blogs. some now come to me on a mailing list such as Norm Farrell's which of course is mandatory reading for me. I used to read you regularly and then you went off to do necessary works in other parts of the world.

Now, I was just reading HuffPost, which is a tad slanted and doesn't in my opinion render great new, but they are announcing more anti environmental changes to their Leg. The environmental commissioner will no longer have to report on such things as some emissions. How nice of Ford to provide this incentive for polluters. wonder how the lungs of children will develop or not develop with these changes. Wonder if there will be an increase in lung cancer and other wonderful things. The problem is when governments make these types of changes, they usually are accompanied by a decrease in spending on health.

Reading Montreal Simon keeps me up to date on what Ford is doing in Ontario. He's based in Toronto and leans to the left. He has done some posts on the environment. One of the best things about Monstreal Simon are his pictures and cartoons.


Happy to see you're going to stay with the sex trade workers rights movement. People who do this work, need protection. too often "morality" becomes part of the confusion on this beat. This is how some people make their living, most not willingly but have few alternatives. Many of those working in this field are people who are being trafficked and are also under age. The under age thing has been nicely dealt with, by the Vancouver Police Dept. who on last evenings news reported they had arrested 7 men, 2 relatively high "profile" people. Many of us know those who use children for sex are like those two, one having worked at Little Flower Academy and the other a former Vancouver School Board trustee. It isn't a lot, but at least it has sent a message and that is a start, the police are watching and working.

Stephen Rees said...

Good response.

It is good to see this blog going again.

As for the Climate Change deniers, I see no point at all in engaging them myself. If you think that is a good use of your time. more power to you. I think they should just be left to shout at the empty room while the rest of us get busy with effective change.

If it wasn't for staying in touch with my family, I think I would have abandoned Facebook by now. I cannot resist posting links there to negative stories about Facebook (the corporation). I am also blocking the worst of the trolls, which has improved my newsfeed exponentially.

Stephen Rees said...

"...under a warming climate, rather than absorbing more greenhouse gas emissions, plants and soil may start absorbing less, accelerating the rate of change."

New York Times


Sue Elrington said...

I've spent the last couple of years diving into the topic of clean energy for a podcast I'm producing and have come away with a few thoughts:

1. Most people are no longer debating climate change. Moving to a clean energy sustainable economy is always going to be a better choice from health and geopolitical standpoints even if you don't believe in climate change so let's just get it done.

2. Very few people are completely up to date on all the science around climate change because it is constantly evolving as we study more and understand more about how human behavior influences the environment. When 97% percent of scientists say it's real and it's urgent, I'm not going to waste time debating the 3% who disagree. I'm going to get to work. If 9 out of 10 firemen fighting a fire consuming your house said the roof was going to fall in within 2 minutes would you spend your time chatting with the one who said it would take 2 hours or would you get the hell out?

3. There are amazing people doing incredibly innovative things to move agricultural practises, building materials, vehicles and transportation to clean energy. Let's subsidize them!

4. There are so many ways you can be part of the change. Individually do what you can when you can to choose clean energy. Inform yourself about the options and then push your organizations and governments to choose clean energy.

5. There are bigger questions to think about when it comes to this transition to clean energy around land use, energy democracy, breaking our car culture, etc. all of which is coming in the next couple of months in our second season of Mission Transition: Clean Energy and Beyond (shameless plug I know). You can find season one here: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/podcast/

6. If you start looking at this as a big societal shift that offers as many opportunities as it does challenges and stop focusing on what you think you're losing I think there is reason to feel less overwhelmed and more optimistic.

Thanks for taking this on Jody!

tinaathena said...

Jody! I can picture you saying this in your enthusiastic and breathless way. I love it. Please keep the posts coming.
On the topic of climate change, I really enjoyed this video from Natalie Wynn, it's about 25 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6GodWn4XMM&t=1s

opit said...

I am not a scientist. With that out of the way, you will understand that representations that man is causing catastrophe need more than a spurious allegation that 'belief' in AGW is a serious 'scientific' position. Belief implies lack of proof - and I am on board with conflating computer gaming results according to set formulae is more of a possible research tool than a known result of consumption of fossil fuels.
Heck, "Proponents of so-called "abiotic oil" claim that the proof is found in the fact that many capped wells, which were formerly dry of oil, are found to be plentiful again after many years, They claim that the replenished oil is manufactured by natural forces in the Earth's mantle. Critics of the abiotic theory disagree."
:) Of course they do. We cannot have a virtually limitless supply of an energy resource and flog concern for the environment at the same time !
It is remarkably difficult to find alternative coverage on a topic which is pushed so hard for attention. I have been making notes for over 9 years, however, and do not find coverage impartial nor reasonable. For instance, a denier of climate change would be a person ignoring that climate has natural cycles of change - and tends to allocate change to man as if that were a demonstrated proof. Or that readings of CO2 from an active volcano over a number of decades resemble what is happening in the world at large.
If there was a greenhouse gas effect, how is that greenhouses function at all ? Rather, they hinder convection - and are routinely stocked with CO2 in excess of natural levels to stimulate growth !
Some ideas you may not have considered.
There is no radiative Greenhouse effect
Isolating contribution of CO2 on Atmospheric Temperature
Climate Science and the Myths of Renewable Energy
I note a great insistence on referring to the notes of the people charged with propagating panic as if they knew the future - and disrespect for alternative views. Political positioning is a poor indicator of abstract truth.