We’re all In the same climate change boat, right? Living on a planet in need of some seriously loving? Yes, but we aren’t all playing together against the greatest global environmental crisis since humans entered the picture. In fact, some are actually trying to sabotage the outcome. Sadly, it’s a game that’s been played before first by the tobacco industry and more recently, the fossil fuel industry. A game that initially benefits the privileged few, but ends with everyone losing. Why play that way? I remember talking with a priest about the Bernie Madoff scandal a few years ago and commenting money was the root of all evil. He said, “No, the love of money is the root of all evil.” And so it goes.
Climate change presents a genuine threat to an industry steadfast against any scientific evidence that hurts its bottom line. An industry willing do whatever necessary to protect profits. Think about the risks of smoking cigarettes. We learned smoking was bad in the 1960s. Big tobacco knew this also. Their own in-house scientists found smoking cancer causing and addictive. Despite the health risks, the industry flooded media with decades of misinformation that led to a public unsure of settled science right into the 1990s. They would do the same with second-hand smoke through the late 90s and early 2000s. Why??? For the love of money. Take a peek at Oreskes and Conways’ Merchants of Doubt to truly appreciate how greed clouds judgment and leads to unethical and sometimes criminal acts.
Misinformation and scare tactics were also used by industry to fight acid rain legislation. Once again, scientists knew acid rain was problematic in the Northeastern US and Canada in the 60s and 70s–this blogger even did an undergraduate thesis on the impacts of acid rain on germination rates of vascular seedling plants. Yet it would take nearly 40 years for concerted action to reduce the culprits of acid rain, namely high sulfur coal emissions from power plants and nitrous oxide gases from cars. Why so long? Because coal-burning power plants offered cheap electricity good for the bottom line. For the love of money.
There are many, many more examples of how greed and profits rule the day. How those in power use their resources to misconstrue the science and confuse the public. To influence legislators and whomever else will act favorably on their behalf. However, the stakes of climate change have never been higher and the environmental and economic costs unparalleled. We can not allow those in love with money to write the script that determines the future well-being of this lovely planet.
Albert Bandura (1997) wrote,”Human lives are highly interdependent. What they do individually affects the well-being of others….People must increasingly work together to make a better life for themselves” (p. viii). Let’s work together to solve the climate crisis. Let’s call out those who put money ahead of others. Let’s ask our leaders hard questions about their positions. And let’s get moving. We’ve got work to do. Peace.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
A 5-Minute Climate Change Mitigation Action Item for the Week: Invite some friends or family members to the house for a climate change discussion. Do it over food or beverages. Make it light and leave it open-ended. Talk about what people know about climate change. What they worry about. Clarify misconceptions by doing your homework and checking out the National Climate Assessment Report. Have people leave the social with strategies to make a difference, and suggest future get togethers on the topic.