There exist many loud-mouthed propagators of ignorance who would have you believe that there is doubt about the fact that humans are causing the Earth’s climate to change, when in reality there is very little actual scientific dispute over this fact–almost none. Of all the scientific papers published on this subject, less than 3% dispute the fact that there is an anthropogenic impact on the Earth’s climate, while 97.2% (and growing) agree that yes, humans have had an impact on the climate. A small amount of research into climate-deniers’ claims will reveal that the studies they cite were funded by organizations that profit from hurting the environment, and therefore have an interest in passing global warming off as a hoax in order to pad their bottom line. These types of studies are commonly known as “junk science”, which means that they do not hold up to peer review or replication, two things that are integral to our scientific body of knowledge.
Greedy “skeptics” aside, we know that climate change is happening. Since roughly 1750, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, levels of greenhouse gases have experienced an enormous spike and continue to rise. To put this in perspective, the level of Carbon dioxide has risen more in the past two decades than it ever has before over periods of 1000+ years. This unprecedented rise in certain atmospheric gases has an enormous effect on the Earth’s climate. Though the Earth has been through many different phases and cycles–ice ages, etc.– they happen on a much larger timescale of thousands, millions or even billions of years, which makes two decades an extremely small amount of time for the spike that we have seen.
We have already begun to see the beginning effects of climate change in the form of droughts and unusual weather at both ends of the spectrum in winter and summer. Unseasonable temperatures, unfortunately, are just the tip of the iceberg. As this article on NASA’s website explains, “Changes in climate not only affect average temperatures, but also extreme temperatures, increasing the likelihood of weather-related natural disasters.” We are sealing our fate by ignoring alternative sources of energy and continuing our debilitating dependency on fossil fuels.
However, our dependency on coal and oil as well as our ignorance and/or prejudices towards alternative sources of energy are no accident. They are in fact a part of a campaign of misinformation and doubt about the reality of climate change, funded by a few elite individuals who stand to profit from this self-destructive ignorance. A prime example of this is the koch brothers, who have given over $67 million to climate denial groups. As it happens, these brothers own the second largest privately-held company in America, which also happens to be an oil corporation and therefore have an enormous amount of capital that depends on oil consumption. Imagine that. They make billions of hurting the environment and will certainly will be nowhere to be found when the rest of us have to pay the price for the damage they have caused to the environment. Unfortunately, climate deniers who profit from degrading our natural environment are able to wield a disproportionate influence in the money fueled arena of American politics, and therefore are able convince politicians to do their bidding, which means sacrificing the future of all those on planet Earth.
Corporations and superpacs are now allowed to contribute an essentially unlimited amount of money to political campaigns because of the Citizens United ruling, which under the guise of “free speech”, makes our government purchasable and makes an individual vote worth a lot less. In this hijacked democracy, or corporacracy, corporations pay politicians, who in turn give them subsidies or reduce regulation to make the cost of doing business lower, and therefore make them more profitable and more able to donate more to enforce their selfish will upon the entire nation. Our congress spends a vastly greater amount of time fundraising than legislating; as many as “four hours a day dialing for dollars”. With this kind of ratio, it’s no wonder normal citizens are constantly thrown under the bus by their representatives. Politicians make grand promises and sweeping statements about America and the power of citizens, yet they are lapdogs to corporations who fund their campaigns. Even more disconcerting is the revolving door phenomenon that is now the norm in congress. In 1974, 3% of congressmen went on to become lobbyists for corporations, today 50% of senators go on to use the corporate and political connections they forged while “serving” the public to earn enormous salaries once their tenure in congress is through. I put “serving” in quotes because in reality the people are the least of their worries; their “service” has become nothing more than a lucrative career move.
The only way that we can interrupt this cycle is to hold politicians accountable for their corporate ties and resultant biases. We must make candidates responsible for the people by showing them that they can no longer be subservient to the corporations alone. We need to be aware of all of the facts surrounding situations like corporate subsidies and environmental regulations, because we can no longer trust our politicians to look out for our best interests. Above all, examine the facts presented to you with a critical eye, no matter how trustworthy the corporate bigwig or politician (or anyone, really) who presents them might seem. Our only hope in the face of a government that has come to exist only to generate profit is to stand together as citizens and declare that we have had enough of practices that generate private profit and spread enormous costs to an undeserving and uncompensated public.
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