Saving The World, One Killing At A Time

Yesterday a nice couple visited to view the solar panels installed on the roof. They are in the process of negotiating with the leasing company to put almost two dozen panels on their home.

The woman was animated, with a dazzling smile, and a cheery attitude. The husband, not so much. A bit dour, seeming more grounded in pragmatics, but a nice gentleman.

He worried that sometime down the road their roof might need repair, despite it having just been installed a few years ago, and they would have to pay to remove the panels and reinstall them while the roof was fixed. I suggested that such a worry was fruitless, that we can’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow never mind several years from now.

I didn’t go into the ‘world is ending’ line, though I did mention that one reason I installed solar was that other people seeing them might be encouraged to think about it for their homes.

Thinking about it this morning, I found another analogy. Our ongoing climate catastrophe could be analogized to the Chicago fire, in which Chicagoans are throwing fuel on the fire, just as we are throwing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere today. And here I come along with my solar panels, which amount to an eyedropper of water to squirt on the fire. Yeah, Chicago is burning, right to the ground.

Another way to look at it considers the climate as a massive, planet-sized flywheel. We’ve kicked it into motion, we’re feeding energy into it, it’s going faster and faster, and its mass and momentum will keep it going for thousands of years. My solar panels are the equivalent of me pressing a finger against the flywheel to slow it down. Not going to happen, that wheel is just going to keep on rolling.

The scientists talk about a three foot sea level rise by 2100, and a global temperature rise of a couple of degrees by then. Frankly, I think they’re in for a rude surprise. A very rude surprise. If not them, then the rest of the world.  Scientists have to work out what’s happening as it happens, and they’re finding things are happening which they hadn’t taken into account. Feedback loops within feedback loops, if you will. It’s like that underground coal fire burning in Pennsylvania. It’s been going for years and can’t be extinguished. I doubt anyone thought it would burn for so long, and make the town uninhabitable. That’s where we’re headed with global warming. On a planetary scale.

And still, without hesitation, we continue to pour fuel on the fire. We stand in our home, the only home we have, and watch as it burns down around us, thinking magically that we won’t be burned or killed.

I’m not under any illusion that my solar panels make a difference, nor that the couple that came here yesterday will make any difference with their panels. I can at least feel that I did something, and perhaps encouraged others. But it doesn’t really amount to anything. Chicago fire. Eyedropper.

Perhaps if the United States stopped wasting money on useless wars and put the money to use developing solar and putting it on every house in the country, perhaps that might make a dent. But I think it’s obvious at this point that the U.S. is not going to do that, is not even going to try to deal with the problem of global warming. United States policy now officially determines to make the problem worse by encouraging the development of more fossil fuel resources. Drilling in the Arctic. Deeper undersea drilling in the Gulf and off the coasts. Fracking for gas, which packs the double whammy of increasing greenhouse gasses and wasting our diminishing supply of fresh water. Encouraging the development of tar sands, despite the abysmal safety record, the destruction of forest land, and the gas load on the atmosphere. So we needn’t be hoping for change, not from the government, which is corrupt and blind, willfully so on both counts.

Perhaps I should have said to the gentleman yesterday that he doesn’t have to worry about his roof because, in fact, the world is ending. Installing solar panels is just a way of giving the finger to the people enabling the death of the biosphere, and thus the death of human civilization, indeed, the death of the human species. We have more pity for the doomed polar bear than we do for the doom of humanity.

So yeah, I think that’s about right. My solar panels are my way of giving the finger to the politicians and the rich people and the corporations who are killing my world. Unfortunately I’m getting old and won’t be around to see the end of it all. But I would like to be there for a couple of reasons. Curiosity, for one. I want to see how it happens. But the other reason? I’d like to be there near the end so I could hunt down some of those people and throttle them with my bare hands for what they’ve done.

On the other hand, given their intransigence, greed, and stupidity, perhaps we might be justified in getting a head start on hunting them down and removing them from the equation. That sounds about right. Seems fair. And offers a better chance for saving the biosphere than my puny solar panels. I, for one, wouldn’t mourn the bastards.

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10 Responses

  1. Very well stated, as usual, Ric!

    I was not even aware that you have solar panels. Kudos to you! And you ARE making a difference if you have people see them and, because of them, install them on their home. Because someone will see theirs and do likewise. And on and on and on. We hope anyway. And though it may NOT save the planet, it may slow its demise. And at least you can sleep well at night knowing that you did what you could to help.

    I think that one reason we spend more energy trying to save the Polar Bear is because the Polar Bear is an innocent bystander. He cannot express his disappointment in what the greedy bastards in Washington are doing to HIS planet. He cannot vote them out of office. He can only watch his ice melt!

    I would join you in that search, seizure and throttling of the bastards killing our planet. It might give us a few more years. At least a hope of it. And I, too, would be far from mourning the demise of those greedy, ignorant, selfish, self-centered, egotistical, fooking bastards! They will go down with us, too, only in much more style.

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  2. Except, inconveniently, the world isn’t warming. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/29/hide-the-decline/

    There’s a lot of hatred on this blog for humans. Perhaps we have some subscribers to the Club of Rome proclamation;

    “The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man”.

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      • What, specifically, am I supposed to be looking at on that link, or should I be overwhelmed by its rapier-like logic and knowingly-pointed use of the disparaging noun “denier” as if we somehow also disavow the existence of Belsen because of our suspicion of the received wisdom from the climate change military-industrial complex?

        My very specific point is that the world has inconveniently stopped warming. I’d welcome some facts which disprove this (actually, “welcome” isn’t the right word, I’d be happier that the world isn’t warming, to be honest, but I’ll accept proven facts to the contrary).

        It’s an old observation (1944 – The Road to Serfdom), but the unconscious (and, sadly, sometimes conscious) tendency of collectivists is to invent or overstate a common threat to justify the end. Our points of commonality are too diverse otherwise.

        And to quote the “anit-Hayek”; “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do YOU do, sir?”.

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        • “Anti-Hayek”. To typo is human.

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        • You offered a site whose author is unidentified. Is he a climate scientist? Does he have any credentials? Has he published in peer reviewed science journals? Do you know that he isn’t a flack for the fossil fuel industry?

          In exchange I offered you a site with identified climate scientists.

          You picked something that confirms your bias. I picked one that offers legitimate science. You’re not interested in facts that disconfirm your bias, or you would have explored the site.

          The facts haven’t changed, but you can’t know that because you’re not interested in facts. You pick a small part of the overall picture and proclaim it as the ultimate truth.

          I am not a collectivist, whatever the fuck you think that means. Last time you babbled around here you called me a communist.

          “Climate change military-industrial complex”? Yeah, keep wallowing in nonsense.

          Don’t bother me anymore.

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          • With a momentary pause to consider the sensitive request of the author of an online blog requesting privacy, Dietrich-like, to be left alone…..

            (Chuckle)

            Right then. Keeping this civil on at least 50% of the exchange of views, here’s some raw data for you to consider; http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/zip/e/0/station_files.20110720.zip

            This file contains the data from the HadCRUT3 report. HadCRUT is the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and one of the key sources for the reporting of “actuals”. The others are UAH, RSS and GISS.

            I’m sure you’ll not download it and crunch the data, but if you did, you’d seed a 17 year flat trend of global temperatures. The other datasets concur. There’s plenty of analysis of this available on the interweb thingy.

            Put simply, the reports of the polar ice caps’ demise are greatly exaggerated. Now, that’s not to say the planet isn’t warming up at a dangerous level, just that there’s actually no evidence of it for large part of the time since Kurt Cobain has not been with us.

            Don’t outsource your thinking; the data is publicly-available but so its interpretation. As sentient beings it’s incumbent on us to choose to investigate the facts or accept those spoonfed to us.

            We also have a choice on whether or not to be rude to people with different views too, but that’s more a product of background, education and character.

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            • Right. Like you’re qualified to judge and interpret the full mass of data on global warming, more qualified than the thousands of climate researchers who have worked for years investigating the phenomena. I’m sorry, but that’s fucking ridiculous. All you’re doing is finding stuff that supports your belief. You go ahead and hang on to that one little thing you’ve found. Makes you feel good, sure, go ahead. You’re picking faith, your unsupported belief, over science. Go talk to somebody who shares your bullshit.

              And you’re right, I’m being uncivil. I try to always be uncivil in the face of stupidity.

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            • You go, Ric!!!!

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  3. “I try to always be uncivil in the face of stupidity.”

    That clears things up for me! Thanks!

    So, there’s this body called the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and they’ve just released their fifth assessment report which has at the core, those sources I listed in my previous comment. There’s a bit of obfuscation and you’ll need to dig around to find it and a background in statistics might help to cut through some of the ‘interesting’ ways they’ve changed sample periods and presentation from the previous four reports but what this report shows is that there has been no statistically-relevant warming for nearly 2 decades.

    The IPCC say so in their report. Climate scientists the lot of ‘em too.

    There’s a nascent hypothesis put forward to explain this involving an ocean “sink” effect but there is nothing tangible to back this up evidentially at this stage. Just a theory.

    You see, I’m not hanging on to “the one little thing” I’ve found. What I’m doing is drawing your attention to the question of whether or not there is any actual evidence of warming because seems a somewhat pivotal point of interest in the whole “is the globe warming at a catastrophic rate or not?” debate.

    Thanks for blocking comments from the TNA address, by the way. Not sure why you’d do that, did I post something illegal or threatening?

    Like

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