The urgent threat of climate change

Appearing in The Athens News:

Wednesday, December 30, 2020  Letter to the Editor by Aaron Dunbar, Lowell, OH

What do the U.S. Pentagon, insurance companies, the Federal Reserve, state pension funds, Democrats, Republicans, socialists, environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry have in common?

To varying degrees, every single one of these groups has come to recognize the urgent threat of climate change.

Even companies like Shell and ExxonMobil, both criminally responsible for and historically in denial of climate change, have been left with no choice but to admit that it’s happening, even as they continue to sabotage solutions and delay action for as long as doing so is profitable.

My question, then, is why aren’t we taking action?

A quote attributed to Frederic Jameson states that “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism.”

I believe this perfectly encapsulates our nation’s failure to grapple with the destruction of the biosphere, and indeed the upending of life across our entire planet.

Climate change activists are too often painted as starry-eyed naifs, unable to comprehend how the “real world” works. I happen to subscribe to the exact opposite viewpoint.

An almost religious adherence to systems that we know to be self-destructive is not rational behavior. It is pure hubris to suppose that our insatiable desire to consume without restriction will win out over the laws of nature that have stood in place, unchanging, since the dawn of time.

The same corporate villains who are so quick to cry “socialism!” at the least talk of regulation are in fact heavily subsidized by our government to the tune of $20,000,000,000 annually. The oil and gas industry, while shouting from the rooftops about providing jobs, has cut at least 118,000 workers over the course of 2020. To borrow a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., our country’s toxic dynamic with the fossil fuel industry is one of “socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.”

As I write this our members of Congress, many of them beholden to the very corporations destroying our planet, are unable to agree on sending out a round of life-saving $2,000 stimulus checks to average Americans, even after handing out billions to the oil and gas industry, large amounts of which went to straight to CEO bonuses, rather than to workers.

2021 must be the year we put an end to this corruption, and begin transitioning toward a clean, just society for all.