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Fighting Climate Change — By John Reed

Fighting Climate Change
In keeping with my resolution to be positive, let’s begin with climate change. I’m positive the weather is changing: it’s warmer in the daytime and cooler at night. Beyond that, experts can’t agree. Many say it’s getting warmer overall, yet some don’t. It doesn’t help the doomsayers when some of their data gets revealed to be suspect or even deliberately doctored.
But for the sake of argument, let’s accept that the overall average temperatures are rising. Then we get into disagreements as to whether humanity is causing it, as opposed to methane-rich cows, orbital eccentricities, or solar output. But again, let’s accept the worst case and say the human race is indeed boiling the Earth.
So now comes the question: what can we do about it? First, it’s important to understand and accept how little we are in the grand scheme of things. The total energy budget of humanity is less than one twentieth the amount of global solar radiation. That’s everything we do, from driving, farming, heating, cooling, burning, living. So even if we went back to the stone age tomorrow, we would have only a small effect on the energy going into or out of the world.
Still, in our hubris, let’s say that actions we take will actually make a difference. How do we change? By governments outlawing oil? By forcing people to buy lower wattage light bulbs [yes, that’s a real law]? In my experience human behavior is difficult to alter or control by fiat.
Those of a certain age remember the Arab oil embargo and Nixon dropping the national speed limit to 55 mph. If [IF!] everyone had obeyed the law, we would have saved a whopping 4% on oil imports. Of course we know few people slowed down…we just became a nation of scofflaws. Today, California has the most stringent air pollution laws in the country, yet has seven of the top ten most polluted cities. We don’t even need to get into the failed attempts at international efforts to bring down carbon emissions.
So clearly the legal and political systems can’t do the job. What’s left is the economic system, and here’s where I find positive notes. A good example is the advent of electric cars from companies like Tesla. Using good old-fashioned ingenuity and the free enterprise system, the company has gone from start-up to selling hundreds of thousands of all-electric-powered cars in just ten years…all while bucking political and legal barriers.
Without a single law being passed, we’re likely to see gasoline-powered cars go the way of the stagecoach within a decade or two, a far shorter timespan than the politicians thought they could legislate changes through new laws and taxes. People are adaptable. We’re survivors. Bushmen in the Kalahari, Bedouins in the Sahara, Sherpas in the Himalayas, Inuit in the Arctic. Even if the Nervous Nellies are right and the coastal cities flood, we’ll be ok.
And I’m positive science and free enterprise will lead the way.

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