World On Fire Part 3: Will The Tide Of History Finally Douse Global Warming?

World On Fire Part 3: Will The Tide Of History Finally Douse Global Warming? - Mask Your Beliefs

Siberia is on fire. SIBERIA!  As is California, Indonesia, Brazil…you get the point. Basically, it seems as if the whole world is suddenly toast. So, we decided to take a look back in history to find-out how everything went horribly wrong. We learned about a few super smart climate scientists, who the world mostly ignored. And discovered more than we wanted to know about the powerful and highly effective climate obstructionist industry. Yes...yuck...there is a straight-up industry. Now we’re about to see Al Gore flex his big, powerful muscles. Gulp.

Climate scientists have been trying to save the world for a long time. Without a cape.

As we have discovered, for almost an entire century, climate scientists have been trying to save the day. Or more to the point, continued human existence. But they have been stymied time and again by industrial and political powers that had, well let’s just say, less noble agendas.

As an aside--since these power players also live on planet earth, you’d think they’d think having it implode from the ravages of global warming might be a bad thing. You know, like the rest of us. Very odd. But let’s leave that rather fascinating look into the dark hearts and deep pockets of obstructionists for another blog. Back to the hero scientists.

After James Hansen gathered his scientific models, exited Congress, and lowered his voice volume from a forceful 2 back to his usual negative 10, he returned to NASA to do more brilliant stuff. And Washington got back to doing what it always does. Which is…come on…do I really have to say it?!

Front groups are formed to undermined legitimate scientific findings and urgent warnings regarding global warming.  

Moving on. To 2006. Because nothing really happened (ok, I said it...) in climate crisis mitigation history until then. Summits were held. And agreements were agreed to. But they couldn’t be enforced because of governmental gridlock. In DC that meant a Republican Congress who refused to ratify international climate accords, including the Convention On Biodiversity, which was deemed essential by the world’s leading scientists. Essential, as in necessary if you want to avoid mass extinctions and degradations of vital ecosystems.

Of course, there were still the obstructionists. And they were busy little destructive beavers during the 1990s and early 2000s. First of all, they had Bush 1 and Bush 2 in the White House for 12 years. So that was helpful.

In addition, the lobbying arm of the oil industry ratcheted up their misinformation campaigns by creating even more devious front groups. Such as the Advancement of Sound Science Center (at least they had a sense of humor), who undermined legitimate scientific findings and urgent warnings regarding global warming.  

Deny, Deny, Deny. And Then...What The Heck...Deny Some More.

One particularly talented obfuscator was Steven Milloy, who took to heart the oil industry’s “deny, deny, deny” philosophy. His lobbying organization--which had transitioned from big tobacco to even bigger oil--actually explained its insidious approach to obstruction in writing:

“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

Controversy. Which creates doubt. And confusion. And, most importantly, inaction. Nice. I wonder if Milloy kissed his paycheck with that mouth? 

All of this mired mess continued until…yes, we’ve finally arrived at 2006! The year that Al Gore flexed his cinematic muscle and released An Inconvenient Truth. The film that changed everything. For a hot second or two.

Actually, that’s the general perception. That the film heated-up discussions in the halls of government, in classrooms, and across dinner tables around the world. But it didn’t result in any quantitative changes. Wait...what about the Oscar? And the Nobel?!

Can Someone Who Wins Both An Oscar And A Nobel Possibly Be Wrong?

No. It's actually empirically impossible. At least in the time and dimension continuum we live in right now. Even though Al is the variable. The reason is simple: It's 2021. And the world is on fire. So Al was right. 

And not just about important Armageddon kind of stuff. The Alster has become quite a lady’s man (you’re gonna wanna click on this link titled “Is Al Gore getting hotter?”) 

It is, however, true that no substantive climate change legislation resulted from the movie’s release. But it did have a real impact on public perception. Especially among the younger generation. You know, the ones who will inherit a world on fire.

They began to get more vocal. Organize. March. Pressure their schools and corporations to not only go green, but to also stop investing in the fossil fuel industry.

But most importantly—and this was only really understood recently—studies have found that there was a significant increase in people making voluntary carbon reduction changes to their lifestyles in areas where An Inconvenient Truth had played. In other words, once people fully understood the causes of global warming, and what they could personally do to help reverse it, many decided to become part of the solution. 

Which brings us to the last and final installment of our “World On Fire” blog series. And it’s a good one. Very simply, it asks the all-important question: What can we do now that the whole world is on fire? More specifically; What would Keeler, Hansen, Greta, and yes Al do? Find out next week.