“We’ll always have Paris”

With a fond nod to “Casablanca”, a destination passed over by Donald Trumped-up on his disastrous foreign adventure, the Paris Accord on Emissions is dead, unless it isn’t, thanks to the fool in the Oval Office. Having no understanding of the consequences of further fossil fuel burning, the ignorant orange-haired bumbler has succumbed to the dictates of corporate planet-rapists, anti-science religious fundamentalists, and deniers of climate change.

The Trump administration and their Republican minions in Congress have shown their determination to roll back every Obama effort to slow or mitigate climate change. Dragging the U. S. out of the Paris Accord will be their greatest victory yet in their war on our planet’s future.

“Populism” without popular support is a sham, a cover for policies that, on their own, would never be implemented. Going against the climate wishes and judgments of his own people, Trump and his brigade of goons could fatally undermine the efforts of nearly two hundred rational nations to combat global warming by reducing CO2 emissions.

Thanks to the actions of the energy industries and their stooges, Donald Trump now being the chief among them, uncounted billions of humans will face lifetimes of misery and deprivation.

Trump is not a thinking, mature, responsible adult, so it was unrealistic on our part to expect him to actually care about the damage his energy industry backers are doing to the environment and thousands of other species that share our world. These corporations, led by the pals of our current no-show Secretary of State, the former CEO of Exxon Mobile, now know they can proceed with their long-term plan, unimpeded by our government.

The central goal of their plan is to dig up or drill every accessible store of carbon on the planet and burn it. The men who run the energy companies are unspeakably venal, morally bankrupt, and irresponsible, but they’re not stupid. They realize that global demand for energy will continue to grow, but sooner or later we’ll have burned all the accessible carbon. So they run PR campaigns to make themselves look “green”, They highlight trivial investments in clean power while earning hundreds of billions in Black profits. They’re taking steps to ensure that when the carbon runs out, they’ll be in control of the main sources of “alternative energy” such as solar and wind power. They’ll thus still be the largest corporations in the world. They’ll still be the great engine of greed, sucking up the wealth from working people and smaller businesses and handing it over on a platter to their plutocrat owners.

And we, through political tools like Trump, are clearing all obstacles from the corporations’ pathway to global domination.

In blocking every major attempt to migrate from fossil fuels to clean alternatives our leaders are committing nothing less than a crime against humanity.

It’s easy to condemn the usual suspects. It’s easy to condemn the politicians and denialist allies of the energy Lords. It’s easy to condemn the religious ignoramuses who hate any policy based on science. It’s easy to condemn the so-called conservatives who want to free corporations from any kind of national regulation. It’s easy to condemn the corporations themselves, as they destroy the world that our grandchildren and their children will inherit.

What is not so easy is to face the fundamental truths of global warming, and accept our collective responsibility for it. The harsh truth is that we are the collaborators in the Great Burning. We burn fossil fuels to get energy we can then consume in our homes, businesses, vehicles, and transportation systems. We use the energy to produce our food, power our devices, and to get still more energy out of the earth’s stores of carbon.

The demand for energy is based on how many people need it, and on how these folks live. In 1960, a decade or so after World War Two ended, there were roughly three billion people on Earth. There are now well over seven billion. Realistic projections are for as many as twelve billion people by around 2060, and up to fifteen or more billion by 2080. Why has global warming occurred dramatically over the last hundred years? The first half of the answer is humans have irresponsibly tripled the number of energy consumers.

But that’s just half of the full truth. How much energy do these people consume? Do they live humble lives, using a minimum amount of energy per person? Or do they live like Americans, Europeans, and others in richer countries and large cities, using and often wasting vast amounts of fuel and kilowatts? The answer in 2017 is that most people in our world still live relatively low-energy-consuming lives. This will be hard for most consumers in the economically advanced countries to believe. But we generally fail to remember the billions of poor, underpaid, struggling people who use almost no energy as compared to us.

Here’s the hardest truth to swallow. By 2060 or thereabouts most humans will be living lives that consume as much energy per person as we do today in the richer countries. The amount of energy required per average global consumer in 2060 could be eight or ten times as much as humans consumed on average in 1960.

The hidden-in-plain-sight truth about global warming is this: thanks to the amazing global economic growth the world has experienced since 1960, we’ve introduced billions of people to the energy-dependent life we Westerners enjoy. As these billions move from rural areas to cities, from agricultural to industrial jobs, from producing their own food to eating manufactured foods, from walking to their fields and village centers to commuting in electric trains and cars, from little contact with the larger world to smart phones and PCs, they increase their usage of energy dramatically.

Let’s do the math. Thanks to quadrupling our population from 3 billion to about twelve billion by 2060, we’ll need to generate four times as much energy every year as we used in 1960, right?

Wrong. Thanks to economic growth and a more energy-dependent standard of living around the world, each of the twelve billion humans in 2060 will probably require on average at least five times as much energy per year as their great-grandparents did. Four times as many humans times five times as much energy use means we’ll be using perhaps twenty times as much energy globally as we did in 1960.

Twenty times as much carbon burning. If “alternatives” are allowed to develop, maybe only fifteen times. Those climate activists who say we’re toast have no idea how right they are.

This is the real truth behind global warming. Our ceaseless and profligate growth in population over the last hundred years has driven economic growth based on consumption of fossil fuels to a level that now threatens to bring catastrophic changes to the climate.

We’re just over halfway from 1960 to 2060, and we’ve already caused CO2 atmospheric levels to nearly double from early industrial levels to above 400 parts per million. Other greenhouse gas emissions are keeping pace. That’s sufficient to raise global average temperatures 3 degrees Fahrenheit. In the coming 45 years, we’ll see emissions double again, in lockstep with species-killing temperatures. As terrifying as this must be to any thoughtful, reasoning person, these awful numbers will likely be much worse, given how Earth’s people will be consuming, on average, so much more energy than they do today.

We don’t just have a corrupt, rapacious, profit-grasping carbon industry that’s poisoning the planet; we have a carbon-based economy that’s out of control. We’re not just facing some massive killer hurricanes and a really bad heat wave; we’re condemning our descendants to centuries of climate terror, poverty, warfare, rape, disease, and starvation.

But instead of confronting the real truths, we focus on a looming rise in sea level of two meters. Two meters, a seemingly manageable six or seven feet? Try two hundred meters as the icecaps melt.

At least, we can say we had Paris. Two hundred years from now, the only Paris our great, great, great, great, grandchildren are going to have is the top few floors of the Eiffel Tower as they drift by on rafts, trying to escape the chaos of killing and starvation on the suffering lands we left them.