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Ignore the blame game with climate change

by | Nov 30, 2015 | Planet Matters

Why making the wrong arguments about climate change keeps the debate stuck in the mud.

Not a day goes by where there isn’t a news story about climate change, formerly often referred to as global warming. Be it a story about violent storms, or a climate conference, or the rising and falling costs of oil, the news stories ultimately make their way back to the debate, semantic and political, that is, as to if it is really happening and if so who is to blame.

Notice I didn’t mention a scientific debate. That’s because there is very little credible dissent that the global climate is undergoing profound changes, and those changes are in part being exacerbated by the actions of mankind. And while such consensus exists among the brightest and most well-informed among us, the debate still persists on the airwaves and online and in sound-bytes and slogans.

And through all that noise sadly, steps to combat the situation sit not taken.

It begs the question, isn’t there some common ground that all the forces on both sides of the argument can come together on? Well there is, if the argument moves away from the climate and instead focuses on the building blocks of that climate, namely this planet’s natural resources, and view them through the perspective of quantity and quality.

Quantity

Nobody can argue that there is only so much rock to frack or oil to drill for, and while that exact finite number is hard to pin, the fact that there is a finite number is not in question.

And as such it takes only a simple view of the world to pose the obvious question, ‘What happens when we run out?’

As is often the case, these scientific questions are illuminated to great fanfare in Hollywood movies and television shows, where there is political uprisings, wars, and apocalyptic futures where baron robbers scour the earth for the last drops of fuel. And while those fictional stories may be showing the worst possible outcome, it is nonetheless a possible outcome.

Could it be 100 years from now? 200? As mentioned before, experts don’t have a firm grasp on when we hit that empty gauge on the fuel pump known as Earth, but it is not as far out there in the future as people may want to pretend.

And because of that it makes perfect sense to waste no more time in laying the necessary political, legal, and scientific groundwork for moving off of a reliance on fossil fuels, and move to a comprehensive use of renewable energies.

Quality

While coming to an agreement that we must quickly move to preserve what limited resources we have left is of paramount importance, it’s not the only matter at hand. Saving rocks and trees and leaving oil untapped will ensure we don’t plunder this planet for all it’s worth, but that doesn’t stop us from damaging the quality of the resources we leave.

Air that is riddled with pollutants, water that has substances pouring from factories, soil that is deprived of the nutrients needed to plant crops, all are realities we face and have the means to prevent.

Again the same common sense is needed to recognize that if we don’t change the way we manufacture, change how we handle waste, and change how we use carbon emitting fuels, we will be making our air more unbreathable, and our water more undrinkable.

The benefit to focusing on these quantity and quality issues is that the solutions to dealing with them are the same that will ultimately lead to a reduction in the human activities that are damaging our climate. And they can be done in a less politically charged way, as the idea of clean air, land, and water is much less controversial than arguing if a one degree change in climate will doom humankind.

Now to be clear, moving the focus from climate to resources can help with some of the heated controversial debates, but that alone will not solve the problems.

To do that will require formulating fair policies across the planet to account for how some countries are just in the beginnings of their own industrial revolution while others like the United States have already reaped the great benefits of having such a period in its history.

It will take sacrifice by many and trust among all, and even with all that there will likely be countries and regions of the planet unhappy with stifling growth and opportunity.

However the alternative is a planet raped and pillaged for all it has to offer, leaving millions of people scrambling for resources and dying when none are found.

Now, is that bleak, overly-dramatic outcome open for debate?

Possibly.

But is it really an outcome we want to chance at all?

Robert Westfall

Robert is a writer, behavorial researcher and decision-making consultant. He is the founder of Instinct, a firm specializing in helping organizations be more human focused and planet conscious.  You can learn more about his work at www.TheHumanInstinct.com and follow him at twitter.com/WeAreInstinct

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Remember when things just seemed to work? Yeah, neither do we.

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