The United Nations has been pushing a global reduction of CO2 emissions but as Vox recently reported, we are now on track to surpass our goal of not reaching a 2 degree increase in average global temperature. As it currently stands we are on track for a 4 degree increase and as Brad Plumer said in the article, “Emissions would need to decline dramatically (and then go negative) for a good shot at staying below 2°C.”
Most of us would agree that this is a problem that should be immediately handled in lieu of the potential consequences but there remains a resilient, and significant, portion of the United State’s, and world, population that refuses to accept this. Why? Perhaps I simply haven’t heard a good argument, but even if global warming was completely false, wouldn’t it still be worth trying to prevent?
I have heard several people I know well say thing like, “I don’t believe all of that global warming nonsense. They [scientists] are just making it all up.” To that I have to ask, what do you think their ulterior motive is? Scientists have little to gain by convincing the government to implement regulations. In fact, it is just the opposite. Companies spend countless amounts of money to sway the public to believe that their products are “green.” Exxon Mobile released a commercial in 2013 to promote the importance of the oil industry. Throughout the 30 second ad Exxon Mobile tries to convince the viewer how essential the industry is to everyday life and even to “the devices that connect us.” They also state the number of jobs that are at stake. The problem is that the energy we consume, if replaced with something else, would not change the number of jobs available or our ability to have a good medical system or technological growth.
A similar problem has caused other countries to avoid a green infrastructure. When a country or company refuses to support a cause such as this, it is because of money. If a country’s major export is coal, why would they support an initiative to find an alternative to coal? It would be beneficial to them to, not only refuse to cooperate, but also fund organizations that try to discredit the work of scientists. Obviously Exxon Mobile does not want to lose money.
As John Oliver said in his new HBO show Sunday, 97 percent of scientific papers support climate change. He then went on to demonstrate how a proper debate about the issue should take place with 97 scientists for and 3 against rather than the usual one on one. Oliver highlighted one of our biggest obstacles which is that “You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact.” The point is that it is ridiculous for us to continue to debate this as if it is a moral issue when we are essentially asking people if they agree with an established fact and then acting based on that response.
This goes right back to the core problem with our country today, there is no compromise or cooperation. When a group of people refuse to support a mutually beneficial decision, and, on top of that, completely refute the evidence, this indicates a lack of trust and an unwillingness to cooperate. The problem has been long in the making. It is one thing to disagree on commonplace issues, but to completely refute a global health initiative is not only selfish, it’s ridiculous.
A congressman might disregard the warnings if he or she has something to gain, but why are common citizens disputing the facts? A lack of education, increasing corporate propaganda, and a hatred for the supporting party are the only reasons I can think of. We need to move fast to ensure that these problems are solved. And while we may not be able to control the emissions of foreign nations, that does not mean we are incapable of doing anything at all. The biggest impact we can make is to insure our representatives no our stance on the issue. Please call your representatives to ensure there is action.