David L. Yaussy: Climate debate lacks independent thought (Opinion)

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Concerned that there is insufficient concern about global warming among the reading public, the Gazette-Mail has been running a series of articles about the imminent climate crisis and the lack of appropriate public response. This same hand-wringing can be seen in most of the mainstream media. Despite years of beating the climate change drum, people simply aren’t taking it seriously enough. Why is that?

It may be that people aren’t taking it seriously because the people who are spreading the alarm aren’t all that concerned about it. Officials and celebrities fly private jets into conferences to complain about the number of air miles the rest of us travel. Al Gore maintains several homes, including a 10,000-square-foot energy hog in Nashville. Former President Obama is reported to have bought a large oceanfront estate on Martha’s Vineyard. Apparently, he is not too worried about the rise in sea level he preached about for so long. And students cutting class to protest adult indifference to climate change? Not exactly a sacrifice.

It could be that the organizations that are telling us to be scared sometimes make admissions that cause us to wonder what the fuss is about. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns us of an ocean rise of 1/8 inch per year, essentially a continuation of what it has been doing for centuries. The last United Nations study of climate change admitted that there was insufficient evidence of increased storms from global warming. Earlier versions of the same U.N. climate study revealed a global warm period during the Middle Ages, before greenhouse gases increased, with temperatures that rival those of today.

People may also have looked at the cost of reducing fossil fuels to drive down greenhouse gases and had second thoughts. The necessary changes require major adjustments to the way we live. Producing enough energy to power the country (homes, businesses, factories, transportation, etc.) by converting to intermittent renewables like solar and wind is, on its face, impossible in the foreseeable future. Cutting fossil fuel use to reduce carbon dioxide emissions enough to meet Paris climate goals will mean reduced heating, air-conditioning, and vehicular and air travel, to name just a few things.

Backing out of the Paris Climate Accord is presented by the national media as a betrayal of our global neighbors. But take a look at the “promises” made by some countries to reduce emissions. Many of them vow to reduce future air pollution increases, sort of like determining the success of your diet by estimating your future weight without a diet, and in a month or so declaring victory for not having gained that much weight. And to top it off, many of those countries say they will combat climate change only if they receive money from wealthier nations to do so.

At one time, journalists prided themselves on asking hard questions of everyone, in an attempt to ferret out the truth. Sadly, that day appears to have passed where climate change is concerned. As more people note that lack of independent thought, they may grow skeptical, and decide to seek out the truth on their own.

David L. Yaussy, of Charleston,

is an attorney in the field of

energy and environmental law.

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