According to Guy Farmer the “very rich white Americans” who flew to the Glasgow climate summit are hypocrites. I agree they need to be called out, but as usual when it comes to climate, Guy focuses on fossil fuel industry diversions rather than giving us any real substance. He fails to mention that the largest single group who attended the summit were fossil fuel lobbyists — most of whom flew there to try to sabotage any meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They largely succeeded, but apparently they are not hypocrites.
I am glad Guy agrees with Greta Thuneberg, as do I, but to characterize her as a climate extremist is totally off the mark. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 85% of young people are worried about climate change, as are 84% of mothers; and 70% of Americans think corporations should do more to address global warming. I’d say that puts Thuneberg firmly in the mainstream majority. Could it be that the fossil fuel lobbyists are the extremists? They certainly are in the minority.
I am glad Guy believes climate change is happening (as do 72% of Americans), but if he is not sure what the human contribution to this mess is, maybe he should read the Overview to the Fourth U.S. Climate Assessment (2018) which states: “The warming trend observed over the past century can only be explained by the effects that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, have had on the climate.”
Or the November 2020 Nevada Climate Strategy, which says the same thing. All 80 academies of science in the world have documented data that shows that the rise in global temperature since the industrial revolution is due to human activities. Interestingly, ExxonMobil’s own data shows the same thing, but they prefer to pay lobbyists and PR firms to sow doubt on the issue rather than taking action that would put us on an emissions reduction path that would make life much less dire for our kids and grandkids. Could they possibly be hypocrites?
I happen to like clean air and clean water, as do 99.9% of Americans. If we don’t want to spend more time living in dirty and unhealthy air like we did for over six weeks this summer, watching our snowpack shrink and our groundwater levels decline, then we had better take some serious steps to reduce our GHG emissions. One way to do this is to put a price on carbon pollution to make the cost of fossil fuels reflect their true costs to society. If we return all the money collected to the American people it will offset higher fuel costs for over 80% of American households and reduce GHG emissions to meet the state’s and the administration’s goal of 50% reduction by 2030.
This revenue-neutral proposal would be a boost to the economy and set America on a path to be a leader in clean energy technology, rather than having to buy our solar panels and batteries from China and our wind turbine blades from Denmark. This concept is known as Carbon Fee and Dividend and is endorsed by a majority of economists as the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed needed to avoid the worst impacts of a warming climate.
The agreement that came out of the Glasgow summit is indeed underwhelming; however, there were a couple of bright spots: over 100 countries agreed to reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030 and 130 countries agreed to stop deforestation by 2030. Perhaps the most encouraging thing was an agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks which cost the American taxpayers $16 billion a year in hard costs and hundreds of billions more if you include the costs of healthcare and recovering from disasters made worse by burning fossil fuels.
Chas Macquarie is a member of the Carson City chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby.