Energy Environment The Daily Banter

Solving the Climate Crisis is Clearly Too Hard, So Here Comes the Climate Adaptation Industry

It’s difficult to resist the instinct to feel utterly hopeless and cynical about the climate crisis. We’re in it now, and a frustrating lack of political will mixed with public apathy or denial has completely stymied what should’ve otherwise happened years ago: an effort of the magnitude of the Apollo mission to find affordable, clean, renewable energy sources while rapidly killing off entrenched yet archaic polluters. But we’re not a prevention nation. We’re a self-indulgent one. We’d rather continue our bad habits while finding ways to ease the side effects.

For example, rather than eating right and exercising, while supporting efforts to improve our food supply, we’d rather pop a few Lipitor to reduce our cholesterol, or a Nexium to reduce the acid reflex. Modern living, at least in the United States, now orbits around nearsightedly addressing discomforting symptoms, but very seldom do we make the effort to tackle the root causes of our discomfort. Why? Because it’s too hard, and we want what we want whenever we want it. Let us eat crappy foods and over-indulge — we’ll just take a pill to make sure it doesn’t kill us. Problem solved!

So it will be with the climate crisis.

In spite of the Environmental Protection Agency’s historic and necessary, yet too-little-too-late proposal to cut carbon emissions by 2050, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the primary method by which America will deal with the effects of the climate crisis is to figure out ways to comfortably live with it, rather than making any sort of sacrifice to engage in the hard work of solving it.

Regarding that EPA rule, the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by just 30 percent below 2005 levels — by the year 2050. While it’s a bolder step than we’ve seen recently, and we should take whatever we can get, it’s just a drop in a very large and increasingly warm bucket. Even still, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican congressional leadership are already crapping their cages over the rule, while K Street lobbyists are likely beating down doors in order to weaken it. And does anyone seriously believe there will be enough public enthusiasm to either strengthen the rule or to prevent deniers and the fossil fuel industry from carving out loopholes the size of your head? Once again, call me Debbie Downer, but no. No way. It’s too much effort, the science is too complicated for a lot of people (take a guess who) and, to be frank, it appears as if the fate of Sgt. Bergdahl is of greater importance this week than the EPA’s announcement.

So, again, what’ll happen in the absence of any significant action on the climate crisis? Rather than foregoing our big cars, wasteful home energy habits (which accounts for 10 percent of carbon emissions), our gluttonous consumption of beef and other corporate agricultural products (also accounts for 10 percent of all carbon emissions) or our resistance to new public transportation infrastructure spending, Americans will likely embrace other more convenient, hassle-free solutions.

–It’s called the “climate change adaptation industry,” and a research firm called Environmental Business International (EBI) predicts it will reach profits in the tens-of-billions annually…. READ MORE