In 2008, Royal Dutch Shell developed two sophisticated climate-risk scenarios called Blueprints and Scramble. The first modeled a greener future while the latter predicted–due to government inaction–a future of droughts, floods, heat waves and super storms. By 2012, Shell executives confided to [McKenzie] Funk: “We’ve gone to Scramble. This is a Scramble kind of world. This is what we’re doing.”1 Another Shell official opined, “I will be one of those persons cheering for an endless summer in Alaska.”
So states Gary Olson near the beginning of his “Profiting from Climate Change.” When I read words such as those above, I ask myself: “Why is it that the people who have so much power over us are also people who are intent on killing not just us, but themselves?” I find it virtually impossible to believe that there are people in this world with minds so deranged that they are seemingly unable to comprehend the fact that their actions may contribute to the demise of our species—yet such people exist! Such people are the equivalent of suicide bombers on a ship who, in blowing up the ship, kill everyone on board, including themselves—the difference being, of course, that suicide bombers know that they are “sacrificing” themselves for a larger cause, whereas the “Scramble” folk are guided by ideology, and a focus on short-run profits—and have no inkling, seemingly, that their activities are of a sacrificial nature (but for what cause?!).
Economist John Maynard Keynes famously said, years ago, that “In the long run we are all dead.” For members of the “Scramble” crowd, however, only the short-run exists; for them, historical time—including a long run—has no meaning. The intellectual world that they live in—insofar as it warrants the label “intellectual”!—is one that differs substantially from the intellectual world that most of us live in. This difference would not be a problem if such people lacked influence. As it is, however, they are helping put not only themselves (unwittingly, one would like to believe), but our entire species, in danger of extinction. The “Scramble” folk remind me of the picture, in the movie Dr. Strangelove of Slim Pickens riding a bomb!
What I wish is that there were a lawyer out there some place who would have the creativity to develop a legal case against those here and elsewhere who are engaging in activities that warrant the label “criminal” but are not so recognized currently by the courts.2 These people must be stopped before it is too late (assuming that it isn’t already too late!), and I am at my “wit’s end” coming up with a solution to this problem. At present, this is the only solution that occurs to me.
More and more we are seeing articles on the internet on global warming—the most recent ones spurred by the recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report—such as this, this, and this. Such articles are valuable for educating those who read them, but few of those who read them (apparently) are decision-makers having the power to move societies in a different direction. For that reason, what’s needed is not more articles of this nature but actions that will bring to a halt those activities which are posing a threat to our continued existence as a species—e.g., legal actions.
What must occur, of course, is for positive actions—in moving away from fossil fuels—to take place while the negative activities are being halted. The science and technology exist that would enable renewable sources like sun and wind to provide all of the energy humanity needs—so that it is at least conceivable that a switchover to such energy sources could be accomplished rapidly. Accomplished, that is, in time to avert disaster.
It would, however, take political will for that to occur—and I suspect that such will would arise only if the courts would declare as criminal the production of fossil fuels, so that our politicians would be forced to act. I realize that this assumes that our politicians live in the same intellectual world as most of us do—rather than that of the “Scramble” people, which assumption is a rather generous one! It is, however, an assumption that I must make.
- Funk is the author of the recently-published (2014) Windfall. Veteran journalist Funk “Funk traveled the globe for six years, following the money in twenty-four countries to profile ‘hundreds of people who felt climate change would make them rich.’” [↩]
- Here is a statement that appears in Sheridan Jobbins’s review of William Nordhaus’s The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World (2013): “CO2 is a pollutant as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States. ‘Greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of air pollutant.’” This gives me some hope that my suggestion here is one that could actually be implemented. [↩]