A tectonic shift is occurring suddenly in the debate over climate change.
Only a year ago, at least in the US corporate media, there was always a rough equivalence accorded to those experts who were warning about a looming climate disaster facing mankind, and those who called the whole thing a “conspiracy” by corrupt scientists and politicians (albeit without ever explaining a motive).
Suddenly, though, that rough equivalence in the coverage is gone. The climate deniers are now exposed as charlatans in the pay of energy companies, and the coverage has shifted to talking about climate disaster being closer than we had been being told. If there is a “conspiracy,” we are now learning, it may be that climate scientists, afraid of creating a sense of hopeless and doom among the public, have been soft-pedaling their warnings, stressing the need to quickly cut back on the use of greenhouse-gas-producing fuels in order to try and keep global warming below 2 degrees centigrade (roughly 4 degrees fahrenheit), when they all really know that a 4-degree centigrade rise is already “baked into” the earth’s near-term climate future, perhaps by as early as 2100.
This shift has yet to make its way into the public’s consciousness in the US (and much of the rest of the world too), but it is clearly going to happen. The question then will be: how will governments, and more importantly, the people of the world, respond to the new much grimmer reality?
Clearly, the capitalist system, fully corrupted at this point because of the size to which global corporations have grown, and the power they have gained to buy governments, cannot and will not rescue humanity from itself. Just look at the latest news from the Shell Oil Company, where internal documents just released show that company scientists have assured top executives that global warming in the far north means Shell can aggressively lease tracts of the formerly ice-bound Arctic Ocean and move floating platforms up there to extract even more oil and gas from the newly ice-free seafloor. These documents flatly declare that a 2˚C temperature rise is passé and that a 4˚C rise is already in the cards, moving towards a staggering 6˚C rise (note for US readers: that is an almost 11˚F temperature rise globally!).
The notion that corporations and a capitalist politico-economic system could ever take the necessary steps to halt climate disaster, for example by adopting energy conservation and becoming “green” companies, was always a pipedream. Just “going green,” while still producing unneeded junk and continuing to try and grow would never reduce total carbon emissions. It would require massively scaling back the production of useless or polluting goods and services, and shutting down many operations. And while the current US Supreme Court majority may think, or pretend to think, that corporations are people, they actually are institutions that are by their very nature and structure devoid of conscience, devoid of morality, and even devoid of any sense of long-term self-preservation.
Once an endless white expanse of glaring white ice in summer, Greenland is now an endless expanse of solar-energy-absorbing gray thanks to centuries of soot-laden snowfalls