It’s The End of the World As We Know It

By Cam Mather

So here goes. I’ll probably offend some of my readers. I’ll get hate mail. I probably shouldn’t write this, but you know what? I’ve had it with humanity’s stupidity.

I’ve been watching the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm/Perfect Storm Sandy. The beach is now on the other side of most of New Jersey. Lots of New York was underwater including the subway and tunnels. Eight million people were without power and it’s still not on for many. The destruction is brutal.

All of this after those insane wild fires in the South. And the summer where a bazillion temperature records were broken. Oh, and that historic drought that parched so much of North America and devastated crops.

This historic flood damage comes 6 days before the US Presidential Election. And has either one of the candidates for the two parties mentioned climate change? Has anyone even suggested that this is something we should be discussing during an election? Well, no one except the Green Party, which is marginalized by mainstream media.

So what aren’t we getting about this?

This isn’t normal. Or it is the new normal, the new normal created by climate change. And it’s kind of miserable.

There were some people talking about it. New York Governor Cuomo said “We keep getting these 100 year storms… every year.” He directly related the extent of the damage to a warming planet. He said if this keeps up we’ll have to start building systems like in Holland to hold back the sea. The NBC weather guy confirmed this is climate change related. For years weather people just keep skirting around this point. Heck, even Brian Williams on NBC kept talking about climate change. They interviewed scientists with NOAA who said the oceans are getting warmer and higher which just compounds storm surges like this. The weather forecasters seemed to be in awe of the size of this storm as it rolled up the coast.

So here we have pretty much unequivocal proof that we’re causing this mess, and the one time in 4 years that we have a chance to talk about it, we don’t. Heck, elections aren’t the time to talk about controversial issues…LIKE SAVING THE SPECIES FROM EXTINCTION!!!

Even “The Economist”, the stalwart of stogy businessmen, is talking about climate change in the context of Hurricane Sandy.

And they’re saying we really NEED to do something about it.  Even Businessweek Magazine got into the act this week with its cover, “It’s Global Warming Stupid.”

One solution is simple. Tax carbon. Shift the onus for climate change on to the people who cause it. That would be me. I buy gasoline. I drive a car. So I should pay for pumping carbon into the atmosphere. I fully accept that. And I like the challenge of figuring out how to pump less of it. And you know what? Business people are pretty smart at this as well, and pretty quickly they’ll find ways to help us all pump out less carbon.

We just need a framework to do it. And it can’t be that hard. But to start with, we must talk about it. We must admit we have a problem and that we need to change.

And how did this happen? I watched a great “Frontline” on PBS a few weeks back called “Climate of Doubt”. You can watch it online.

If you believe climate change is causing the sort of weather we’re experiencing, you’ll find this quite depressing. I kind of regretted watching it, but it shows you how a very small group of people have had a huge effect on getting the discussion of climate change off the US election table. I give them credit. They’ve been incredibly effective. And we live in a democracy and they have every right in this case to be wrong.

I just don’t know how many droughts, how many wildfires, how many broken temperature records and how many devastating hurricanes it will take before the public will rise up and say ‘enough!’ We get it already. We learned about obfuscation from the tobacco debate. And now we have 98% of climate scientists saying that climate change is real and it is a clear and present danger. So let’s get on with dealing with it.

And like Bill Maher said recently to some climate change deniers on his show, and I paraphrase, “I just don’t get how people with children can have that point of view because it’s our kids who are on the clean up crew.”

There is no time to try and muddy the waters any longer. Let’s just shift taxes from income to carbon. And admit we have a problem and try and get off fossil fuels. Fast.

Next election I’ll keep voting Green. Next time I get a hankering to drive 2 hours to Ottawa to the nearest IKEA because I think buying some stuff will cheer me up, I’m going to squash those temptations and split some firewood instead. I don’t need anymore “stuff.” I NEED to make sure I’m not leaving the gym floor a littered mess for the clean up crew.

13 Responses to “It’s The End of the World As We Know It”

  • Cathy:

    S**t Happens and so does “climate change”. It has been happening since this planet was created. It may sound weird but extinction is part of life. Animals come and go, cultures come and go, civilizations come and go, and so will we. Life, Birth, Death, and Rebirth, is the circle of life and rebirth does not always look the same.

  • Michelle Mather:

    A carbon tax was introduced here in Australia on July 1st this year to some pretty scathing criticism by the short sighted majority. There is plenty of info online about our tax, just google it.
    Our tax is not an instead of tax, but an as well as tax. So we still pay income tax and the cost of the carbon tax that is charged to producers is then passed on to us as well. This is what has caused the most outcry by the public and the companies being charged this tax.
    Our government is compensating families that are impacted adversly by the tax if you meet certain criteria so the robbing from peter to pay paul cycle is well and truly in play. My hubby and I do not qualify for any compensation but as we have solar power, water tanks and are low consumers we have not noticed much difference in our everyday living costs.
    I believe this carbon tax will make a difference to how business operates. I work for News Limited one of the largest media groups in Australia and since this tax was announced the building I work in has installed water tanks which is used to flush all toilets and they have changed all the lighting over to an energy efficient equivelant. Prior to the carbon tax all the machinery at the print facility I work in was left running 24/7 whether it was being used or not, now it is all turned off the minute we are finished with it.
    They now post their monthly power bill so all the staff can see how energy efficient we are, or are not being.
    This has to be a good thing.
    Cheers, Michelle

  • As much as I would love to believe the denial is deeper and broader in the U.S., the truth is we’re not much (if at all) better here, especially in light of the current government coupled with explosive growth of oil sands development.

    Your contention that elections aren’t the time to talk about controversial issues is, IMHO, incorrect. There’s no shortage of controversial topics discussed and debated during elections, both American and Canadian. The problem, methinks, is that politicians are only interested on discussing topics which they can affect during the 4 year window leading to the next election.

    That is part of the reason we are where we are in this environmental mess: it’s too big, too long-term, too “nebulous”, so it keeps getting deferred because the payoff is not immediate enough. From the perspective of a politician whose main goal is to get reelected, why would you spend time, money and effort on something that goes beyond your window (i.e., term of office). Nothing sigificant will happen until it is absolutely staring us in the face and cannot be ignored for another 4 years. Which will also be about the time it will be too late.

  • Terri Alice:

    Denial runs deep in American culture. Exceptionalism excuses our failure as a society to grow up.
    I feel so alienated from this culture that I have grown up in and worked very hard to overcome the mythology. Having taught history to 11-12th graders for many years, I gave them heavy doses of Howard Zinn and tried to encourage questioning. I am not optimistic that most Americans can overcome a lifetime of believing they are above the consequences of their behaviors. To do that one has to lead a conscious life and most do not.
    You continue to be a bright spot in my world. I am glad you are there, doing what you do and being who you are.

  • CJ:

    I’ve given up trying to discuss this topic with people. My only hope is that I live long enough to see the day money is worthless and see the panic stricken faces of the 1% try to buy survival.

  • Lorna:

    Just because we can (overuse fossil fuels), doesn’t mean we should.

    Thank you for posting this. It’s brought up a lot of (angry) thoughts and feelings I’ve had of late. Seriously, the majority of lemmings are going to lead us ALL off the cliff. As Ben Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In this case, if we don’t get serious about the prevention part, we might not have the opportunity to even think about the cure part.

  • Rick:

    Good post. Yes, climate change is REAL! Unfortunately, I don’t see anything major happening any time soon, until it’s to late. (Some Climate folks think we’re already past the point of no return.) And it has to be done globally, I don’t see that happening either.

    I agree with a carbon tax, but there really can’t be a solution with a planet of 7 billion, expected to hit 10 in the coming years – and that is the real problem, that no one is talking about.

    PS – Glad I never had kids.

  • Kitty H:

    I recognized that we were at the beginnings of climate change in the early 70s. Yes, you read that right. Until then mid-Africa was a lush tropical area. Then the trade winds shifted north, people cut down the forests, locals began to forget how to engage in sustainable agriculture and decided agribusiness was the way to go. Heck, the great Dust Bowl was a sign of climate change. But back to your thesis. People won’t admit it because they are so scared or unwilling to change. Listen to religious fundamentalists. Jeee-zu is coming back any day so it doesn’t matter. Or science will fix it. Or or or… Perhaps the only way is for a huge environmental disaster to happen on top of their collective heads, but then Sen. Inhofe still says the same thing even after this past summer. Of course, he’s being paid to be a denier. But there are those who think he speaks the gospel. I don’t have much hope anymore because I just don’t think the evidence could be plainer. As to fixing the problem, it’s like most of our problems. They are actually pretty easy to fix, but those who have the most to gain make them complicated for many different reasons as in greed and power to name a few.

  • Joy:

    Read the book ‘Being Wrong:Adventures in the Margin of Error’ by Kathryn Schulz and you’ll understand humanity’s need to deny the undeniable. Our need to justify anything that requires us to change, much less sacrifice our standard of living is nothing short of astonishing.

    As a person who is ready, willing and able to face the pressing issues of today, because I have children and a grandchild, the BIGGEST frustration is having to deal with those who have their heads so deeply sunk into the sand that the rest of their body is barely above the surface.

    I continue to be flummoxed by our species and its tendency toward suicidal behaviour in the face of incontrovertible evidence of the destructiveness of our actions. It’s so hard not to always be angry!

  • Jeff:

    Great post yet again. I have several friends who are vehement climate change deniers, and claim their data comes from Anthony Watt’s site, “”. He’s the biggest denier that there is. Should I mention that he’s on the payroll of the Heartland Group, a think-tank on climate change? Or that one of the Heartland Group’s biggest financial supporter is Exxon Mobile? Somehow I doubt he’ll say anything negative about burning fossil fuels.

    Also, the Heartland Group now refuses to disclose who their financial backers are. How people cannot trace the money trail and see why their opinions are jaded is beyond me.

    A real dialog needs to start, I agree, but there’s no way Big Money is going to let that happen. You yourself said that our candidates are refusing to talk about it, and it’s so obvious to the educated as to why. Go figure.

    Oh, and does this mean I should pay a carbon tax on my wood stove? Must be cheaper than the propane heat we used in the past. 😀

  • Small Farmer in Frisco:

    Some folks will always prefer to deny the rising waters of change while they slowly drown…the Dutch dike and polder system has a lot going for it and it might make a lot of sense to have the Corps of Engineers working on barrier island/reef building as well on all our coastlines…I believe we all need to be asking, “Given where we live right now, what sort of potential weather/climate changes are possible and how do we address those possibilities?”

    Living near Dallas, TX, droughts, tornadoes, and more dynamic temperature extremes seem most likely concerns for me. So maybe I need to be thinking of biointensive hoop house growing environments, water harvesting, safe room in the house, storing a year of food for each person in a root cellar, and finding ways to adapt the existing house using working external shutters, reinforcing inside rooms, and laying in dynamo powered flashlights, radios, etc. And as much as possible get rid of extraneous STUFF that takes up space and is just that much more to lose in a disaster.

    Expensive? Yep, but having thought things through and acted, I’m less likely to feel the end of the world as I’ve known it is constantly hanging over myself, my friends and family…

  • Candee:

    If people don’t get it by now, I can’t imagine what will. I guess they’d rather listen to climate change deniers’ propaganda than have to change their little world. Don’t worry about any hate mail or comments. If they can’t see with their own eyes, feel with their own skin what is happening they are just clueless and blind.

  • Part of the problem is that people don’t want to talk about it. I blog. When I blog about something controversial like politics etc. I get NO comments. None. When I post a recipe or tips on how to keep a clean coop etc suddenly I get tons of hits or comments. People want to here about prepping. They don’t want to hear about what to do to prevent something that makes it necessary to prep.
    And this tar sands oil thing. What is up with that? It’s the dirtiest petroleum in the world.

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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