Guest opinion: High and lowlights of 2015 in climate news | PostIndependent.com

Guest opinion: High and lowlights of 2015 in climate news

In keeping with the PI’s recent 2015 retrospectives, let me offer these best and worst candidates for climate change news in Garfield County:

1. Carbondale put a carbon fee on the ballot.

2. Glenn Beaton wrote an op-ed on climate change.

Carbondale residents are being asked to put a price on carbon pollution, the indispensable step needed to prevent the worst consequences of man-made climate change. If they are courageous and farsighted enough to tax carbon, they will stand with the Greatest Generation, which recognized the threat of Hitler and the Axis, subsequently sacrificing with direct military service, gas and foodstuff rationing, war bond purchases and conservation.

Mr. Beaton’s piece is nothing more than the discredited propaganda of the fossil fuel interests about the “hoax” of global warming. I cordially invite him to provide citations for his inaccurate or misleading assertions. There are multiple credible sources to expose the lies on which he relied.

If you followed only traditional corporate media, you might have missed the news that Exxon executives concealed their own company’s scientific findings in the late 1970s that man-made climate change was real. They have funded, with the other major fossil fuel interests, an ongoing campaign to undermine all such science.

Two reasons for so-called climate denial are short-term risk/reward thinking hard-wired into human brains and the psychological need to ignore facts which conflict with cherished beliefs. Other reasons can only be described as selfish: refusal to make meaningful personal sacrifice, or worse, realizing personal gain at the expense of the entire world and future generations.

Similarly affected are Americans who believe man-made climate change is real, but such a distant problem that it can be ignored for now. They may be hopeful that someone, sometime, will find solutions when it is absolutely necessary. They may think that recycling, driving a Prius and planting a few trees in the yard are sufficient for the time being. While such actions are praiseworthy, the truth is that relying on individuals’ “voluntary” reductions in fossil fuel use is folly. America continues to produce almost twice as much carbon per capita as developing nations. Most of those nations want to be us, at least in their standards of living.

The PI has not yet covered the consensus of credible scientific and economic experts that the plans put forward at the Paris Climate Conference cannot reach the conferees’ optimistic goals. Unfortunately, the maximum gains possible by fulfilling all the “voluntary” pledges of the nations involved will likely lead to catastrophic consequences within this century. Only by using the Conference as a springboard to much greater action can those catastrophic consequences be minimized.

The necessary effective action is to keep as much carbon in the ground as possible. The time to start is now, as the window of opportunity is closing rapidly, if it is not already closed. “Carbon fee and dividend” is a revenue-neutral, market-enforced facet of what must be a multi-faceted approach.

I hope and pray that Carbondale will inspire Garfield County and the rest of Colorado to show America what can be done from the grassroots when elected and traditional leadership fails.

David Schroeder of New Castle is a retired doctor and West Point graduate.


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