On the first day, nearly 150 heads of state were present. U.S. President Barack Obama, who recently decided against a portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, offered his opening remarks. At 6:08 in the video, President Obama echoes the core message from his first presidential campaign, saying: “One of the enemies that we’ll be fighting at this conference is cynicism, the notion we can’t do anything about climate change. Our progress should give us hope, during these two weeks. Hope that is rooted in collective action.”
‘Hope and Change’, just like in 2008, when he won the presidential race. For our planetary environment today, ‘Hope and Change’ means moving past the delays and inaction we have watched for far too long. Our broken political system, and the elected officials who appear to benefit from that broken system, are enabling this worsening failure. So maybe, finally, after too many years of costly delay, President Obama and other leaders can help us take action to address the looming climate change disaster.
OK, so we do not know with absolute certainty to what extent we are endangering the livability of our planet: what will happen, how bad it will be, and how soon. And, the situation (steadily climbing record levels of CO2, record polar ice melt, extreme weather events, regional droughts, ocean dead-zones, etc.) empowers some to create very scary doomsday scenarios. But, what is with the head-in-the-sand reaction? Why are so many of us so inclined to agree with the paid-for denialism and obvious ‘delay-delay-delay’ strategy pushed by our elected officials, while choosing to ignore the accumulated wisdom and technical expertise of our scientists? Why are so many of us so lacking in critical-thinking skills, so easily duped by shills who are clearly being paid by Big Oil to do nothing but seed confusion?
How about this: let’s grant the majority of scientists the credit they deserve. Let’s accept that their concerns may be valid, that we are overdue for making drastic reductions in our CO2 emissions, and let’s get serious about taking real and decisive action. A good place to start would be aviation. Why?
- because aviation depends heavily on fossil fuel consumption (and creating other carbon-based aviation fuels by converting food-growing farmlands into biofuel-growing farmlands is NOT a viable solution!).
- because aviation is generally a discretionary (luxury?) activity, in which individuals and corporations benefit with time savings, but at a serious carbon pollution cost. Aviation is at the top of the list, as the activity with the highest rate of fossil fuel consumption.
- because in the context of the entire planet, aviation is an activity enjoyed primarily by an elite few. I.e., the majority of the world DOES NOT use aviation. It is thus fair that the full costs of the environmental damages imposed on Earth’s atmosphere should be paid by those who reap the benefits of aviation.
- because the people who most frequently use aviation are commonly hyper-consumers, who tend to consume not just energy but also raw materials at rates far above the world average. As such, habit-changes toward lower personal consumption rates, as acquired via aviation, may spill over, producing a positive, multiplier-effect, accelerating beneficial changes for the planetary environment.
- because aviation is an ideal (and largely isolated) component of the larger modern economy, with a regulatory structure that facilitates rapid deployment of new standards and procedures. As such, what we learn in modifying the aviation industry can help us to quickly implement improvements in other economic sectors, too.