It was an interesting juxtaposition of truth-telling and fear-mongering.
Sunday night my wife and I watched the most recent Cosmos episode, which was about global climate change. Scary scientific conclusions, as recapped by the LA Times.
Here's the thing: Nature doesn't care about your politics, or what you want to be true. It just does its thing according to the well-established rules described by science. We ignore reality at our peril.
The sharp rise since the late 19th century means that the average global temperature is rising, with some pretty devastating consequences for our environment. Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, heat waves, record droughts, severe storms, mass extinctions — this is the legacy we're leaving to future generations, unless we find the collective will to do something about it and become better stewards of our planetary home.
Then on Monday the Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulations on existing power plants to curb the carbon pollution that is causing global warming. They're market-friendly and required by law.
But climate change deniers freaked out, predictably, saying the regulations would lead to the loss of many jobs. They ignored the fact that the coal industry has been losing jobs for a long time -- down more than half since 1985.
Plus, renewable energy is a growth industry. Coal is on its way out. It's an outmoded way of producing electricity. It's good for both the planet and the American economy to wean ourselves off of coal as soon as possible.
Fortunately quite a few corporations aren't buying the U.S. Chamber of Commerce bullshit.
Days before President Obama’s EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced sweeping new rules to limit the amount of carbon pollution that existing power plants can dump into the atmosphere, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report blasting the then-unreleased regulations as certain to raise electricity prices, kill jobs, and slow the economy.
But leading climate-friendly members of [the] Chamber don’t want to be associated with its anti-climate report. Several member companies, contacted by ThinkProgress, declined to endorse the Chamber’s efforts against the administration’s move to address a direct cause of climate change.
Good for them. This is a sound decision, from both a scientific and business standpoint. Voters strongly support the new carbon pollution standards. Just as with gay marriage, it isn't smart for a company to be on the wrong side of history.
Reality can't be argued with in the long-term. Eventually truth triumphs over fiction. Global warming is real. Anyone who watched Neil deGrasse Tyson explain the science of it in the last Cosmos episode should understand this.
Like I said before, scary stuff. Tyson said:
We just can't seem to stop burning up all those buried trees from way back in the carboniferous age, in the form of coal, and the remains of ancient plankton, in the form of oil and gas. If we could, we'd be home free climate wise.
Instead, we're dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the Earth hasn't seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can't seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves.
All the while, the glorious sun pours immaculate free energy down upon us, more than we will ever need. Why can't we summon the ingenuity and courage of the generations that came before us? The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What's our excuse?
Well, greed. Ignorance. Religious fundamentalism. Selfishness.
These aren't good excuses. Future generations will look back at the early 21st century and wonder how so many people could have been so blind to the reality of impending climate doom.
Hopefully we will avert catastrophe. The EPA's power plant regulations are a step in the right direction. But we need to do more. A lot more.