Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Gordon Robinson | Climate change uncomfortable facts

Published:Sunday | July 24, 2022 | 12:07 AM
With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, people walk near a sign down Hanover Street in the North End, during a summer heat wave in Boston.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, people walk near a sign down Hanover Street in the North End, during a summer heat wave in Boston.
A construction worker cleans the pavement while rehabilitating a street in Barcelona, Spain. The death of a street cleaner during a heatwave in Madrid is driving a debate in Spain about the need to adapt labour rules to the realities of climate change. Mos
A construction worker cleans the pavement while rehabilitating a street in Barcelona, Spain. The death of a street cleaner during a heatwave in Madrid is driving a debate in Spain about the need to adapt labour rules to the realities of climate change. Most importantly, officials and unions are trying to ease the heat inequalities faced by lower-earning workers and families.
A man refreshes his face at a fountain in Trafalgar Square in central London. Global temperatures are hitting record highs. In England, 38 degrees Celsius+ (100 degrees Fahrenheit for us old-timers), once unimaginable, are commonplace.
A man refreshes his face at a fountain in Trafalgar Square in central London. Global temperatures are hitting record highs. In England, 38 degrees Celsius+ (100 degrees Fahrenheit for us old-timers), once unimaginable, are commonplace.
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Once again the global buzzwords are “Climate Change”.

Why? Well global temperatures are hitting record highs. In England 38 degrees Celsius+ (100 degrees Fahrenheit for us old-timers), once unimaginable, are commonplace. On Monday temperatures reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit in a country where the majority of homes don’t have air conditioning. Residents suddenly headed for the mall for that scarce commodity. The heat melted tarmac on a Heathrow runway causing flights to be cancelled or postponed.

A friend in Dorset put it to me this way:

“All the best from Dorset, where it’s currently 98F and causing everyone to drive with one arm hanging out of the car window…” Sounds like Jamaican taxi drivers have relocated!

Wildfires causing hundreds of heat-related deaths have been reported from Portugal, through France to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. So, guess what? Suddenly Climate Change, that left-wing created hoax, is on everybody’s lips. But, like Milli Vanilli, it’s just bad lip-syncing:

David Attenborough at the UN’s 2018 Climate Change Conference: “Time is running out. Right now we’re facing a manmade disaster of global scale – climate change. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisation and extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Bwoy, D., it look like time dunn run out a’ready.

California Governor Jerry Brown in 2017 after the Disney Duck backtracked from the Paris Accord: “If we don’t do something about it, it will be the end of the world as we know it!”

Let’s not forget the specific warnings from ye olde scribe who wrote on October 5, 2018 (Apocalypse Now):

[Climate Change is] not going away. And it won’t wait for us to die to have a severe impact on our lives. The first and most important thing to do is to stop pretending climate change is scientific gobbledygook and break it down into terms simpletons like me can understand. Readers, what’s coming up right now is of deadly importance to you, so put down the remote, sit up straight, and take it in. Very. Far. In.

‘Climate change’ is caused by global warming. That’s no longer a fashionable phrase. ‘Ah, wey dis global warming deh? It cold ‘til ... ,’ says the Jamaican emigre to South Dakota in January. Maybe, but get this: It’s all about global warming. Global warming is caused by an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Yes, the same carbon dioxide we exhale with every breath. Carbon dioxide absorbs heat, so the more we expel into the atmosphere (especially by unnatural means), the hotter the Earth becomes.”

WE WERE WARNED

What have we done about it? The square root of quack-all as usual! In 2018, I warned, based on studies done over two centuries, that we must act NOW to restrict global warming to two more degrees (the best-case scenario available after decades of doing nothing) in order to restrict the damage to “extinction of the world’s tropical reefs (yes, TROPICAL reefs – that’s us), sea-level rise of several metres, and abandonment of the Persian Gulf. That’s the extent to which the Paris Accord hopes to limit the damage. Long-term disaster is now the best-case scenario.”

But the Paris Accord, as I wrote then, has received less practical respect than Rodney Dangerfield.

So. We. Were. Warned. Over and Over again! We were told, repeatedly, that the result of doing nothing would be “historic record-breaking drought” (Chris Hayes, All In, December 9, 2015); “record breaking rain, epic flooding a number of tornadoes” (CNBC reporting on Hurricane Ida’s drenching of the North-east in 2021); and “record-breaking temperatures upwards of 105˚F”.

Bearing in mind that USA is the world’s greatest carbon emissions offender, what have American politicians done about this apocalyptic danger?

Jerry Brown signed a 10-year extension for California’s cap-and-trade programme passed with bipartisan support. The controversial programme requires companies to buy permits for releasing carbon into the air in the hopes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using financial pressure to spread greener practices in the private sector.

Sigh. I wonder who will be “selling” those permits?

Candidate Joe Biden, in 2020, announced his plan for a GREEN New Deal which included a promise to:

“Ensure the US achieves a 100 per cent clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050. On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track. And, he will demand Congress enacts legislation in the first year of his presidency that: 1) establishes an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025; 2) makes a historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation; 3) incentivizes the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change.”

DWL. Mid-term elections are coming up. What’s the latest empty promise?

A BIG JOKE

Back at the ranch, Jamaican Government’s stand-up comedy routine announced a plastics ban (single-use plastic bags of defined proportions only). But every roadside vendor still hands out produce in single-use plastic bags. Supermarkets wrap meat in plastic then put it in paper bags. Soft drink companies continue to sell millions of drinks in plastic bottles, most of which end up clogging drains or littering beaches.

It’s. Beyond. A. Joke!

Then there’s talk of recycling. But where are the recycling centres? Where’s the recycling education? Environmental awareness should be a compulsory subject in every secondary school because student populations aren’t yet set in “nyam and fling wey” culture. But it’s not. Neither is civics. But not to worry, every secondary school graduate can calculate 1+1 =2. Never mind they don’t know what “2” means, they can convert Celsius to Fahrenheit on their electronic calculators.

But the biggest joke is the political pretence that climate change solutions involve politicians’ favourite toy – deflection (in this case “personal responsibility”). It’s OUR fault. So WE must fix it by recycling; discontinuing single-use plastic bags; waiting forever for the garbage truck to arrive while solid waste stinks up our communities; and using paper straws.

This. Is. Arrant. Nonsense!

As I wrote in 2018:

“FACT: It is carbon dioxide that’s warming the planet, melting ice sheets in the Arctic, raising sea levels, endangering coastal cities, and threatening human civilisation.”

It’s global NOT personal carbon footprint that’s the problem. Don’t get me wrong, less plastics; more recycling; and riding our bikes to work (if we can be protected from drunk drivers and pernicious potholes); or using less electricity are good things but don’t dent the real problem. Yet, as usual, politicians prefer to blame us for their disgraceful, deliberate greed-induced lack of foresight then insist we (“personal responsibility”) try to correct their egregious errors. So we are told we must reduce our carbon footprint by committing to as many of the above personal changes as we can.

UNCOMFORTABLE FACT #1: Fossil fuels are the cause of global warming. One hundred fossil fuel companies produce 71 per cent of earth’s carbon emissions.

UNCOMFORTABLE FACT #2: This “carbon footprint” scam was first introduced by Big Oil’s marketers in an advertising campaign designed to trick us into accepting “personal responsibility”.

UNCOMFORTABLE FACT #3: No amount of banning of plastics; recycling; riding bicycles to work; turning off the lights; or (worst of the worst) drinking through paper straws will make the slightest difference. The world’s “carbon footprint” is more than 70 per cent due to fossil fuel companies’ activities.

Will governments, including Jamaica’s Government, ever admit these incontrovertible FACTS? Will governments, including Jamaica’s Government, ever devise policies that prioritise renewable energy and discourage fossil fuel companies like JPS and Petrojam? Of course not. Jamaica’s Government “divested” Wigton Windfarm to use investors’ money to pay down debt but is holding on tightly to its JPS shares. What do YOU think is the likelihood Jamaica will reduce dependence on fossil fuels?

When will governments, including Jamaica’s Government, feel the heat we are feeling and do something REAL about it? World politicians are currently tripping over themselves to impose sanctions on Russia. But Russia’s insane breach of international law threatens only Ukraine (so far). The same politicians are sucking up to (while collecting political donations and favours from) fossil fuel companies that are endangering the entire planet. Go figure!

If we continue to do nothing about carbon emissions from fossil fuel corporations and instead ask individuals to reduce their personal carbon footprint it won’t be long before I won’t have far to travel when angry readers tell me to go to Hell. I’m certain my eternal punishment there will include mandatory use of paper straws.

Peace and Love!

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com