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Ruth Hertzberg: Controlling carbon emissions a fool’s game

Ruth Hertzberg
Copper Mountain

I am trying to figure out what the two writers Auden Schendler and Mark Trexler are trying to say. Are they trying to warn of an impending climate disaster as exemplified by a shutdown of coal-fired power plants and diminishing air travel? For most people, such events might appear to be good for the environment, although I doubt a cheaper way to produce electricity or to travel long distances can be found.

Are they trying to warn us of impending global warming disaster? I don’t know what this might be because it seems to me the earth and environs are not getting warmer; they are staying about the same or cooling if you read the figures that come from most stations in the world. They cite droughts, fires and dust storms plus Hurricane Katrina, exaggerating these catastrophes. Here in the United States we know that the disaster accompanying Hurricane Katrina was the fault of collapsed levies which flooded the low-lying areas of New Orleans – plus a lack of concern on the part of the Bush administration. It was indeed a ghastly event, but it produced no rebellion or revolution.

The historical precedents mentioned by these two writers bear no relationship either to climate change or “moments of madness,” whatever they may be: the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler, the violence of the French Revolution, the sudden peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union … none of the foregoing have any relationship to the situation in the U.S. today. The collapse of the Weimar Republic may be attributed to extreme inflation. There were other causes for the violence of the French Revolution (are the authors referring to the Reign of Terror or the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and “the Great Fear” which followed it?). I certainly don’t wish to go into the history of the French Revolution which is as hallowed as the American Revolution. As for the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union (surely that was a good occurrence), I believe it was because of one man, Mikhail Gorbachev, who avoided war and instituted new policies called “Glasnost” and “Perestroika.” These writers are surely NOT historians.

But they are people who think or even hope that we are on the brink of some disaster unless we control emission of carbon dioxide. It’s a fool’s game to try to control such emissions, or to even think that such controls will have any influence on weather. Shall we stop breathing? We do maybe want to stop burning fossil fuels or to burn them more cleanly to have a cleaner environment, if we can. But it seems as if these two writers believe that controlling carbon emissions will usher in some kind of chaos which (they hope) will usher a more right wing government.

If anything, they are trying to push the panic button, but they are totally mistaken in what they have written. Personally, I find it gratifying that these writers who evidently believe in global warming are also advocates of the kind of extremism that characterizes right-wing fundamentalists.


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