Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

Few among us like going to the doctor, especially when we have behaved poorly, ignoring all those previous warnings to change our ways and continuing right on in an unhealthy lifestyle. Planet earth recently had another official checkup and the news, again, isn’t good, the prognosis even worse. The inarguable diagnosis is an acute case of human habitation. Our apology is to say: “Sure doc, I’ll start exercising, and smoking less… tomorrow.”

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow. Finally implementing energy efficiency as a solution to global warming and climate change is just so much hopeful whistling into the wind of denial. If home and business owners couldn’t or wouldn’t afford energy conservation before the Bubble burst, how likely is it that they will follow through now? How can one make their home more energy efficient when they can’t even afford a home, or can barely pay their mortgage?

How can we realize high speed rail when we can’t even maintain our existing infrastructure? Automobile fuel standards are markedly better, but necessary goals are still 15 to 30 years down the road. Carbon taxes and trade-offs are similarly incremental treatment for a terminal case of habitual procrastination.

I keep hoping that a Michael Rennie guised space alien will actually standstill all human technological activity, everything just brought to a halt in a dramatic wake up call announcing intelligent supervision has finally arrived.

Left to market forces alone, nothing is going to stop complete extraction of the earth’s fossil fuels and their harmful employment. Even if the U.S. got its environmental act together, China and India will likely proceed along the same stupidity curve we have long enjoyed, and from which we can hardly attempt to admonish them. As the third world becomes second, and then first, all will demand their own selfish desires’ realization. Still, it would be just like America to, even now, take backseat to a shared world slingshotting past our total and absolute lack of environmental leadership. For all our accomplishment in setting the bar of possibility, in just about everything, we remain a very disappointing piece of work when held up against our own exemplary blueprint for responsibility.

So, where do we begin actual remedy of all we have inflicted upon the planet at large while enjoying myriad excesses in our own most fortunate appropriation of everyone’s finite resources?

Finally implementing cautionary suggestions from the ‘60s and ‘70s would be a nice “kumbaya” moment, Rachael Carson and H. Thoreau all smiles, but the world they loved is long gone. We can’t save what we have already lost. What remains, though still worth all efforts towards salvage, will never be made new again.

I came of age hearing Jacques Cousteau declare that the aquatic realm he so well championed was already dying. Not very ill. Dying. Yet, our planet continues with great stoicism. Even a planet needs the comfort of some denial. Grasping at optimism, most environmentalists themselves choose against Cousteau’s definitive assessment. The ocean, some say the beginning of life, is paramount to our planetary survival. We must stop micromanaging our carbon excesses by some debatable timetable, and just curtail all excesses, as of yesterday.

What if we simply sued those responsible into ceasing and desisting? Not you and I, but those that keep enabling our destructive behavior. Let’s lawyer punishment against the oil companies for retribution towards mitigating all that their product has wrought against a world that suffers more and more each passing day from that product’s impact.

Is that really such a ridiculous suggestion?

Really?

As an ex-smoker, even I thought litigating for damages from Tobacco’s toobig to-be-accountable deep pockets was a bit of a stretch. Everyone knew tobacco caused cancer despite ongoing paid-for-contrary-science arguments of denial. Smokers knew it and still smoked. Addiction is the responsibility of the addicted, yet Lady Justice decided otherwise.

Maybe she will again. As with smokers, all of us that use oil and gasoline, and petroleum’s plastic spawn, are part of the problem, but, as with tobacco, so what? These products, used as intended, do legally responsible harm. Imagine Big Oil picking up the tab for product liability, paying for everything from medical bills to weather incurred property damages. Imagine settlement awards funding Green alternatives and encouraging overnight divestment towards sustainable energy policies. Big Tobacco fell to class action suits that really had very arguable merit, but justice prevailed.

Would such justice change the irreversible plight of a now critical warming of the world’s oceans? No. The ocean’s thermal mass is now such that polar melting cannot be remedied. Coral reefs, unalterably impacted by even modest temperature and salinity changes, are inexorably imperiled. Sea level rise is now unstoppable. That’s the unwelcome hard science, looked away from by all except the most hard core environmental watchdogs.

Any hope of mitigating such impacts demands immediate cessation of carbon assault. Science and technology, joint enablers of such destruction, are most likely too-little-too-slowly converts to serious environmental remediation. But, it’s certainly worth a try if we can first level the field of combat, immediately.

Know any good lawyers?

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Gary Anderson lives in Bath.


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