As we enter 1984, metaphorically speaking, I realized I’ve had enough of the climate madness. Not just the mass delusion (the equivalent of Y2K times the dot-com boom times Beatlemania), but the whole topic, a twisted mess of ideology, speculative science, and fear. “The science is settled” vs. “no one will give up lifestyle”. Science/lifestyle, back and forth for eternity. Elon Musk’s marketing/engineering genius is now a symbol for those who want to destroy the fossil fuel industry, despite the obvious irony in modern manufacturing processes. Those who want to destroy the fossil fuel industry are now, as an example, blocking natural gas access to NYC residents who have built homes and businesses that can only be heated by natural gas. Children of the western world, pampered in ways nobility couldn’t have dreamed of 300 years ago, are now demanding, with zero comprehension of the subject, that we change the way the world works immediately, and to not just uphold their standard of living but increase that of the developing world simultaneously. All without the fuel the modern world was built on. As a disturbing exclamation point, those very same children lecture world leaders and US congresspeople who solemnly listen (cameras are rolling), make promises they have zero hope of keeping, and then scurry back to hide under desks and suck on thumbs, periodically lunging out to shout “climate emergency” to appease zealots, though the shouts interest the general public less than the price of pork bellies. Green party candidates promise everything this side of resurrecting the dead, with no whiff of reality in their grand visions.
Anyway, I had a free hour last Saturday, so I sat down and cleared up the whole mess. Some of you aren’t going to like it but hey, can’t win ‘em all.
My starting point was a recent UN/IPCC report, which provided unexpected inspiration by way of its cagey and useless analysis: “Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems (high confidence). These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale…”
I thought, well, that’s pretty stupid. Just ask anyone who has built anything lately. Or even tried. California’s green governor shot down a high-speed rail connection between LA and San Francisco when the cost estimate hit a not-inconsiderable $77 billion. The IPCC is talking about hundreds or thousands of such infrastructure equivalents. So, “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure” are not going to happen. The IPCC was wise enough not to go near pointing at a solution; they simply shrugged and said, well, that’s what you gotta do (in that weird Euro/Spanish/Korean accent all UN honchos dissolve into). In other words, you’re all going to die if you don’t build a house in the next week, on a rocky outcrop, and all you get to build it is 3 nails, a 2×4, and a handful of anti-housing protesters. Like authors of green manifestos, these are people that could not build a pile of rocks on time or budget, yet they feel comfortable mapping out engineering plans that even Harry Potter couldn’t execute.
There’s got to be a better way, I muttered to myself, having devoted in excess of 12 frustrating minutes to the problem. Starting with basics, then: to reduce global emissions, we can’t mess with the necessities of peoples’ lives, or they will revolt and get yellow-vesty. We can’t take away people’s heat sources or they get angry and/or cryogenic. We can’t ration their groceries with locally sourced stuff, because there’s not enough to feed cities. We can’t eliminate the aircraft carrier-sized shipments of consumer crap from China without fear of revolt. And we can’t count on consumers to think they’re in an emergency; only 10 percent of Canadians, according to polls, are willing to spend more than $500 a year to fight climate change. Half don’t even want to spend more than $100 annually, which is less than a Netflix subscription. So despite the howling juggernaut of media messaging, at least 90 percent of citizens really, really don’t give a shit.
What we need to do then is remove that which is purely optional, components which are not essential to our survival yet will have a big enough emissions impact to make even irrational titans like David Suzuki happy (ok not him; he’ll only smile when 90 percent of industry is up in flames. Replace image with your favourite climate activist superhero).
Then it struck me, a sure-fire way to reduce global emissions by more than 20 percent within a year, thereby meeting global Paris climate accord goals far ahead of schedule. Not only would it solve the emissions problem, the plan is breathtaking because it would not be at the expense of the world’s poor; it would afflict the affluent far more than anyone else, and it would free up vast land spaces to be used for reforestation or general life frolicking. Even socialists would love that agenda.
So here it is: What we need to do is ban all commercial air traffic as of January 1, 2020.
The catalyst for this plan was actually Greta Thunberg, the young climate heroine. As I watched the forlorn and soggy-looking Nobel Prize nominee bounce across the ocean in that racing yacht, I realized that she had a point by not taking commercial air traffic. Flying was a luxury she could afford to do without, and she set out to prove it (with the help of, well, a racing yacht and crew, but this isn’t some sort of Dickens tale now is it).
And in at least one aspect, she’s right. Commercial flight is 100 percent luxury. No one needs to fly, with the exception of medical emergencies. Everything else is a choice.
By halting all flights, we – my fellow planet savers and I (Greenpeace, Stand.Earth, 350.org, etc., my new brothers in arms, are going to love this) – will immediately slash 2 percent of GHG emissions through fuel consumption alone.
Bah, you might say, I wouldn’t get out of bed or trade in my old toaster to save only 2 percent. We need to get to 20 percent or we’re all doomed.
Well, here’s where the true beauty of the plan shines through. The world will easily see another 18+ percent reductions in GHG emissions through the annihilation of any tourist activities that these flights enable. Imagine the reach.
The cruise ship industry will be reduced to a tiny fraction of its size, with only drive- or- walk up customers climbing on boats (walk up customers…on cruise ships…haha). All those massive hulks will no longer be floating on, and pooping in, the oceans; we can sink them all as new coral reef seedlings. Tourist destinations around the world, filled with carbon-spewing luxuries like jet skis, heli-skiing, game safaris, spas, dwarf-tossing championships, you name it, countless expeditions for which people fly around the world will be wiped off the map. No more Patagonia, Patagonia. Paris will be emptied of carbon-generating tourists, as will London, Tokyo, Rio, Adelaide, Vancouver, or anywhere else that proudly clocks how many million passengers flit through their airports.
The spin-off salvation/devastation will be no less impressive. All those resorts will stop importing sushi and beef from around the world by plane, and, well, all those employees will stop consuming quite so much as they sit at home. Small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Think of the peaceful beauty of the Caribbean, once all those pasty lifestylers bother their shores no longer.
Politically speaking, except for those unfortunate resort workers, the poor of the world will not be harmed by this plan at all, because they seldom are the ones waving around the frequent flier cards. The anti-flight plan therefore should be supported by the socially conscious who are loath to do anything that hurts the poor.
In fact, we can surmise that there will be extremely widespread support for the initiative; it’s the only realistic one there is. Well, I suppose the airline industry won’t be too happy…and airport workers…and Boeing, who envisions $3 trillion of new business from China alone over the next two decades…and a few other million here and there…oh that’s right, they will be retrained as window installers. Anyway, to hell with those bums, they should have seen the green revolution coming, and shuttered their tourist operations already in preparation for The Inevitable New Low Carbon Economy.
So we need to start a petition with which to bludgeon parliamentarians. There will be hordes of signatories. Plenty of people are lining up behind political parties/candidates who have declared a climate emergency, and if they believe that it’s an emergency how on earth could they not sign on?
So, there you go! The world’s simplest, cheapest, most elegant, and most easily supported plan to realistically lower global emissions in a material way.
If you choose to fight the fossil fuel wars rather than this plan, if you choose to stand there in the rain blocking a globally insignificant pipeline or two, then we can conclude that you’re a denier also. You clearly don’t believe the science either, because you are choosing a path with less chance of success than this one. And I thought you cared about your grandchildren…
There will never be a clearer, simpler blueprint to save the planet and eliminate climate emergency anxiety. Support it or STFU about climate emergencies, from now until your last breath. And you’re welcome!
Get your Christmas shopping done early! Or get creative with Halloween treats and hand out copies of “Tne End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” by Terry Etam. Click here for more detailed information about The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity
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