Here’s my take on this subject. There can be no doubt that the world-wide climate is changing – rapidly and for the worse from a human perspective. The impacts are already being felt, but not in a way that motivates the average American to be concerned. Until and if it does so, there will be insufficient voter support for doing anything meaningful in response.
I won’t argue these assertions. They are plain to anyone interested in the facts. I honestly believe that many climate change skeptics either don’t wish to deal with the problem or are scientific dullards who grasp at any straws to avoid reality. I grant that there is disagreement about the influence of human activity on this coming climate catastrophe, but that isn’t relevant to my point. It is coming, and that is all that we need to know.
Now, none of the above is at all remarkable. It is probably the consensus of any competent observers. But there is more. I believe that eventually the impacts will be sufficient to move even a lethargic electorate. They will feel them where it counts, in their pocketbooks. This might happen soon or decades hence. The timing is difficult to predict. Climate requires skill, data and perseverance to understand. But when this does happen, we will come to a very uncomfortable realization. One way or the other, we are facing a substantial reduction in our standard of living. Indeed, this could be similar to regressing a hundred years in time!
I say “one way or the other” because we could do nothing and just let it happen, or we could move aggressively and make the best of it. In both cases, however, the reduction will inevitably occur, although managing it affirmatively should lessen the pain.
Those who currently advocate immediate action really haven’t grasped the consequences. They rightly see the danger but they haven’t thought through what a response might entail. Their plans, like the Green New Deal, are pie in the sky. It isn’t just the astronomical cost, though that should daunt anyone. It is the consequential change in how we live, work, travel, and amuse ourselves. Read any good history describing life in the early 20th century for a flavor of our future.
However, this could be misleading because the intervening years have brought knowledge and progress in many ways that would persist in spite of the changes I predict. For example, we won’t suddenly forget our accumulated medical knowledge, nor will the internet mysteriously disappear. The pace of automation might actually increase. Nevertheless, I suspect that it will be fair to say that our lives will slow markedly and some industries will be curtailed or disappear entirely. Our food supplies and distribution chain will be hurt. That will be far worse in less developed countries, and we are hardly immune from turmoil abroad, as recent history makes abundantly evident.
Tracking these impacts so far in advance is very difficult, though their broad scope is certainly amenable to scientific analysis. That is beyond anything I could do, but I do hope that academia turns its attention to this soon so that plans can be formulated for the time when the political will emerges.
I take no pleasure in these predictions and I sincerely hope that they are overwrought. But what if I am right? Think about it, and review your own attitude towards climate change.