Thursday, December 17, 2015
Ask anyone about global warming and you're likely to get an answer about how the polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and carbon gases are choking our atmosphere to death. Ask the guy standing next to him, and he'll tell you that nothing of the sort is happening. Weather, he'll explain, is not constant. In fact, he'll continue, nothing in nature is constant. Change is essential to life, and the only things that don't change are those which are dead.
Maybe global warming is caused by humans, but that doesn't explain severe and prolonged weather fluctuations that occurred centuries before the first petroleum-driven engines were ever fired up. Then again, I suppose there has to be some kind of damage when billions of self-involved creatures spend eons plundering a planet's resources.
The truth is that nobody has the answer and I couldn't care less. Sure, the environment is important, but the more important issue that everyone seems to be missing is the issue itself: Climate change is the perfect issue of our time.
Think about it. We live in an age when even the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet won't refer to radical islamic terrorists as, well, radical islamic terrorists. Why? Because the man doesn't want to offend anyone. He's just a nice guy trying to be fair. It's one of those -- and I hate this overused term -- "politically correct" things. These days, there are no stupid kids, just challenged kids. Believe me, they're still stupid, but somehow it makes people feel better when they condescend to them in euphemistic terms. It's all part of our Participation Trophy world, where nobody is bad and everyone is beautiful.
And that's what makes climate change so perfect.
With climate change, there is no single person to hold accountable, we're all accountable. There are no national villains, either, like there were during the Cold War. In those days, the Soviet Union was known as the Evil Empire, and China was the epicenter of monolithic godless Communism. They were easy targets. They were countries with big armies and nuclear bombs that threatened our way of life. If the Russians or the Chinese attacked, we knew exactly where to aim our guns and missiles.
That can't happen today, though. Nobody wants to point the finger because nobody wants to be held accountable. They're too afraid of lawyers, the media and losing popularity. With climate change, there is none of that. It's a feel-good, let's-hold-hands-and-wish-real-hard kind of issue. There's no clear villain. Instead, there are lots of little villains sprinkled throughout every rich, industrialized country. Plenty of blame to be shared by everyone, which means it will never be solved by anyone.
This is the kind of issue that Aldous Huxley wrote about in Brave New World, where the strength of society was achieved by people's focusing their attention a common enemy. Only in this case, the common enemy isn't Hitler, Stalin or Mao. It isn't even human. It's a concept with no direct ownership, designed to distract an ever-growing population from solving other vital threats with real, tangible solutions.
Sorry, kids. The real threat of climate change isn't rising tides. That warm feeling is public policy makers sedating you while the real terrors of the world peek through your double-paned windows.