2017-10-12 / Opinion

Climate Denial’s Fundamental Truth


Gary Anderson Gary Anderson Change is something that can be hoped for or dreaded, denied or acknowledged, embraced or resisted. The dictionary defines it as “the act or instance of making or becoming different.” That difference might be viewed as good or bad, or simply an indifferent inconvenience one learns to accommodate. Whatever one’s take on it, change is something that’s indeed real and often irreversible. That part of change can’t be argued away or rationalized as an illusion. One can close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears but change will persist in its actuality.

Life’s all about change. Nobody really wants to be Peter Pan. Unlike the Disney version, the original stage play wasn’t written for children but as an adult fantasy. Its romantic escapism entertained as a wish-upon-a-star longing for an idealized return to a world free of responsibility and not nearly so scary as the nightmarish realities with which grownups find themselves increasingly confronted everyday. No inherent harm in such make-believe self-indulgence.

What’s harmful is when adults seriously refuse to grow up and assume responsibility for their actions and stewardship of the rapidly changing world around them, especially when such changes aren’t in the best interest of those inheriting a planet irreparably worse off for that Iwon’t grow-up irresponsibility.

A sea-change is defined as “a profound or notable transformation,” usually considered as a sudden change for the better. Even when changing circumstances are obviously for the worse, a positive sea-change can occur simply by recognizing that an actual danger needs to be addressed.

The trouble with convincing so many holdouts of the reality of catastrophic climate change, happening right now and not on hold in some imaginary time-out until we can get our collective act together, is that they childishly refuse to acknowledge the desperate planetary need of their personal sea-change. We must all finally accept that we do not live in a Never-Never Land where some can continue acting as if petulant selfishness doesn’t permanently impact all life-forms.

Many who now finally concede that the world is warming, alarmingly and steadfastly, nevertheless still insist that human behavior isn’t an absolute inarguable cause. They can thereby continue refuting the vast consensus of scientific study while maintaining their carbon addictive pursuits until some impossibly agreed upon unimpeachable third party produces the type of indisputable proof positive only a cataclysmic I-told-you-so hindsight can ultimately provide.

Here in Maine the signs of increasingly destructive environmental change abound. Our iconic moose faces extinction from winter ticks. Browntail and Winter Moths cause devastating defoliation. Shrimp and lobster are heading north to colder Canadian waters. Maine’s oyster and mussel fisheries battle acidification. Invasive Green crabs threaten native clams. Our stretch of the Atlantic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world’s oceans. Rising tides threaten coastal communities. Sea changes definitely not beneficial.

Rather than global warming of polar caps being the cause, some climate deniers instead argue that sea level increases result from sinking land-masses. Really.

A well-intended climate denier I know suggested I simply conduct my own scientific experiment to verify that the world’s rapidly melting ice cover has nothing to do with sea level change. All I had to do was fill a glass with ice cubes and water to a marked line to prove that when the ice has melted the water level remains unchanged. I did, and he was indeed correct. Envisioning the Arctic being a similar matter of ice filled water having the same volume whether or not the ice melts, his homemade science lesson therefore clearly disproves the alarmist assertions of so-called environmental scientists. However, in a separate glass, a thermal expansion and glacial melting simulation using warmer water and more ice produced a significant water level increase. Real science is even more complex.

Man-made climate change endangerment is real. Global warming, likewise. Politics is a negotiated ideological opinion of truth where climate science has become another pawn in capturing the opposition’s flag, a childish partisan-driven game by which the planet continues to be the loser. The Republican Party is going down into history in an inglorious blaze of either actual ignorance or a vile “We simply won’t admit to having been on the wrong side of the issue.” As with civil rights, feminism, gay pride, marriage equality, LGBT fairness, universal healthcare, marijuana legalization, minimum wage justice, or gun control, their side of the aisle always seems to be on the wrong side of history’s long arch bending towards an eventual nod to progressive change.

Whether the environment will get that nod in enough time to avert an end to mankind’s history remains to be seen.

Historically, mankind’s had little to do with any overarching consideration of the stage upon which we are famously described as being merely players. Humanity desperately needs a new script in that regard. All of the world’s principal actors have embraced that reality, yet those on America’s political right continue reciting cliche anti-environment rhetoric that even a majority of their own audience now disbelieve.

It’s long past time for mankind to finally grow up.

Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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