Amoeba’s Lorica: The Elephant In the Room

elephantA Facebook friend, earlier today (3 November 2013), posted a story from a major network website – yes, the same one that, some time ago, featured “The Hand of God” on its pages – relating how “four top environmental scientists” had written an open letter to world leaders advocating nuclear energy as the principal tool to “reverse cataclysmic climate change”.

To which Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba responded, “Oh, goody! As if we didn’t already have enough people screaming paranoia and ignorance about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these days. Now we’re going to reignite all those people who’ve been screaming paranoia and ignorance for decades about nuclear technology!

Meanwhile, that major network, which couldn’t give a rat’s ass about GMOs, or nukes, or climate change, is responding, “Oh, goody! A nice juicy controversy! We were wondering what we were going to do to replace the advertising income generated by the government shutdown. This will do nicely, thank you! Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching!!

And meanwhile, people go hungry, and the climate continues to warm. In YFNA’s home town in Massachusetts, the ocean now routinely splashes over the main road to the principal seaside village, and flood insurance rates are calculated to ensure that the village, in existence since the days of the Pilgrims, will be blotted off the map.

As responsible scientists have been reporting for decades, the globe is warming, and human activities are the cause. The latest research, as reflected in early releases of the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, tells us that, in order to have any prospect of reversing current climate trends, all of the fossil fuels remaining on planet Earth must remain in the ground.

Hence the sudden interest in nuclear energy by environmentalists previously dead set against it, setting up the juicy battle between the “true believers” in the anti-nuclear cause and the “traitors” to that cause, which will provide windfall profits to major network websites and ensure that no actual action is taken on seeking alternatives to fossil fuel energy.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba has noted a common thread to all the various initiatives to address the fossil fuel issue that have come to public (or, at least to YFNA’s corner of the public) attention. They are all “big infrastructure” solutions – which, of course, if accepted, would provide lovely sinecures in money and social standing for their promoters. A few of these might actually work, for example efforts to capture carbon from air and water, convert it to solids, and bury the solids – though the methods for doing this that are known at present, at least to YFNA, are inefficient and costly, in both money and energy. The rest? Well …

And, the “big infrastructure” solutions, YFNA argues, all fail to take into account the elephant in the room.

Us.

Yes. We the People are the elephant in the room. We are the ones who somehow expect that, somewhere, there will be a magic windmill, or a magic uranium dome, or a magic tide engine, or, hell, something magic, that will magically let us carry on as we are. And if We don’t get it, like now, then We want our cars, dammit, and We don’t want you. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. And take your self-aggrandizing “climate change” conspiracy with you.

YFNA vividly remembers the colleagues who have, over the past few years, said “Shut up with the gloom and doom already! If we don’t tell pretty stories, narrated by pretty people, we’re not going to get our grants funded, so get out your dancing shoes!” Thus does “science” succumb to the Great God Propaganda, and thus render itself at least as dangerous as the other propaganda machines out there. More so even, because the scientists are less experienced at it, and thus get wiped out by the true experts. Which is how come, for example, a smaller percentage of the US population accepts evolution now than 40 years ago, when scientists were less concerned about the consequences of telling the truth.

And the truth, as far as YFNA can make it out, is this. Yes. You and I are going to have to give up our cars. Yes. We are going to have to make heavy investments, via taxes and other instruments, to make infrastructure and lifestyle changes that are going to be less convenient than at present. Yes. You and I are going to have to conform our standards of living to what the infrastructure will allow – for example, living close enough to work so that non-fossil-fuel transport will serve for the “commute”.

And yes. You and I are going to have to realize that “green” devices like electric cars are basically, as things now stand, class statements (as they are priced well beyond the means of most persons) and hence are immoral. (YFNA bought a used one. Paid four times the price of a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. It lasted four months. It’s sitting in his garage, irreparably dead.) Not to mention, for the most part, that they merely trade carbon pollution for other forms of pollution, for example those associated with battery manufacture and waste, and with spent tires.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba was once offered a nice place to live; quiet, scenic, comfortable.

He turned it down.

It was not within walking distance of his workplace.

He now walks, or bicycles, to that workplace on a daily basis. A workplace that features research on climate change and its effects on the ocean. A workplace where the parking lot remains full of cars. Where they probably don’t understand what YFNA is on about. After all, when the possibility of abandoning cars in response to the truth of human-driven climate change was mentioned, the response came “well, that’s not gonna happen”. They probably reckon that YFNA is mad as a hatter.

Well, perhaps he is. Mad, anyway.

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