As the consequences of climate change become more apparent and the window to act closes, an unprecedented battle is growing in ferocity. Energy and fossil fuel interests and their supporters now face opponents including a sizable chunk of the remaining world power brokers.
Those who keep claiming that climate change is a “hoax” need to become aware that the conspiracy they describe is growing in strength and numbers. Only a concerted effort – more than a Murdoch media blitz or a House Committee hearing – will be sufficient to defeat the growing consensus. Just consider:
While the over 97% of climate scientists who have concluded that human greenhouse gas emissions are warming our planet are vulnerable to attacks and threats, other groups will not be as easily intimidated.
Stay in the loop
Never miss the news and analysis you care about.
The Pentagon is a formidable opponent that’s reconfiguring its global presence to take climate change into account. All too many of its generals and admirals are cautioning us about the national security implications of a warmer planet. They refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier” and “accelerant of instability” – not good news for those who’ve relegated it to the status of a hoax.
Defense’s posture is supported by our State Department and all sixteen agencies of our Intelligence Community. NATO, the UK, Germany and Australia have, for years, integrated the threats posed by global warming into their military planning and deployment.
To military power, add money. The financial community poses an even greater threat to those who still cling to the idea that climate change is a hoax. For instance, for decades the largest reinsurance companies like Lloyds of London, Allianz and Munich Re – those responsible for backing up the companies that insure us against extreme weather events – have been taking climate change seriously.
PwC, the world’s largest professional services firm, has concluded that “the level of corporate reduction [of greenhouse gas emissions] is nowhere near what is required” and calls for a”rapid uptake of renewable energy, sharp falls in fossil fuel use or massive deployment of carbon capture and storage, removal of industrial emissions and halting deforestation.”
Fellow travelers include Jim Yong Ki, president of the World Bank, who warned, “if there is no action soon [on greenhouse gas reductions], the future will become bleak.” His counterpart, Christine Lagarde, who heads the International Monetary Fund, calls climate change “the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century.”
Even the International Energy Agency – longtime guardian of the fossil fuel industry – warns “we cannot afford to delay further action to tackle climate change.” They put a date on it. If “stringent action is not forthcoming by 2017,” the probability that we can keep global temperatures within livable limits decreases dramatically as the costs of succeeding increase.
The Carbon Disclosure Project represents institutions with $87,000,000,000,000 ($87 trillion) in investments who are concerned about the financial risks climate change poses. Its task is to get the world’s largest corporations to inventory, report and take realistic steps to reduce emissions.
This is only a partial list of the rich and powerful those who label climate change a conspiracy are up against. These are large and formidable public and private institutions – not forest-saving treehuggers, XL pipeline protestors, 350 activists, Greenpeace blockaders and other groups that can be threatened, intimidated, branded as terrorists and arrested.
Even the political pressures, lobbying efforts, campaign donations, and public relations campaigns of the energy and fossil fuel interests will have difficulty when it comes to a head-to-head faceoff with the rest of the world’s power brokers.
The fossil fuel interests need not despair – they have their allies.
* The national Chamber of Commerce.
* An overwhelming number of Republican politicians who control the House of Representatives and many state governments.
* Teams of lobbyists and lawyers (matched only by those from Wall Street).
* A network of skeptics who respond to any internet articles with sharp rebuttals.
* Those who are fighting to take climate science out of our textbooks and school curriculums.
* All of us who brush aside the hard facts from the climate scientists, not that we think they’re a hoax, but because we consider them an inconvenience.
The battle lines are drawn and will become ever more contentious as the consequences of climate change become more apparent and the window to act closes. At some point, the military costs and financial risks of maintaining a globalized business complex will become so great they will force a showdown.
Companies that rely on stable manufacturing centers and supply lines to produce, ship and market their goods, farmers who suffer from droughts, a military stretched thin by having to respond to ever more politically unstable conditions abroad, citizens of cities threatened by rising oceans, and families whose food and water supplies are threatened will join with all who are fighting to maintain a livable planet for our children and their children.
The attempts by those beholden to the fossil fuel industry to mislead the public, manipulate the political system, and keep us addicted to their planet-threatening products will not succeed for long. Their days are numbered. So, unfortunately, is the time we have left to address the ever-growing problems brought about by our ghg (greenhouse gas) emissions.
Those who hold dear our planet and the millions of species that inhabit it must be strong and swift in a battle that has no precedent in human history.