I was telling Swamp Rabbit about The Uninhabitable Earth, the 2019 nonfiction bestseller by David Wallace-Wells that explains how climate change will turn the future into an ongoing catastrophe if we don’t drastically reduce carbon emissions. The author noted that green energy initiatives haven’t yet helped us reverse course:
We are… billions of dollars and thousands of breakthroughs later, precisely where we were when hippies were affixing solar panels to their geodesic domes. This is because the market has not responded to developments by seamlessly retiring dirty energy sources and replacing them with clean ones. It has responded by simply adding the new capacity to the same system.
“What’s wrong with adding?” Swamp Rabbit said. “You take them windmills and solar panels, put ’em near the fracking fields and the coal mines, and boom, you double up on making power. Greta Thunberg gets what she wants and so does Joe Manchin. Everybody’s happy.”
I threw one of his empty beer cans at him. “We make the environment cleaner by supplanting dirty energy, not by supplementing it. Sometimes I can’t tell when you’re kidding and when you’re not.”
But it’s not just Swamp Rabbit. Every time I check the news sites there are stories about new roadblocks to replacing fossil fuel sources. I itemized some recent examples for my mangy friend to chew on:
- American corporations that ostensibly support reducing carbon emissions — Amazon, AT&T, Uber and so on — continue to contribute big money to Republican attorney general candidates in various states. In other words, to candidates who, when elected, end up in court opposing stricter environmental regulations.
- Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has arranged for the government to spend billions on a new fleet of mail delivery trucks that will be only marginally cleaner than the fleet it will replace. This despite the input of White House agencies that wanted the U.S. Postal Service to transition to a fleet that would run on cleaner power. It’s “a major blow” to Joe Biden, who can’t figure out how to get rid of DeJoy, a piggish Trump ally who has been doing his best to weaken the USPS since his appointment.
- The Biden administration has said it will work to reduce the amounts of methane released into the atmosphere by oil and gas companies, but limited federal oversight of these companies remains a major problem. Regulators don’t know for sure how much gas is being flared and vented by the companies, only that it far exceeds the amounts being reported by the 13 states that are the worst offenders.
Swamp Rabbit shushed me. “You’re givin’ me a headache with all that noise. Besides, Trump’s buddy Putin is trying to start World War III. Maybe we won’t have to worry about global warming.”
“Good point,” I said. “I feel happier already.”