It’s Time for the Global Warming Prophets to Speak Up
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
A prophet is a visionary who sees what is happening in history more clearly than most of the people who are the companions of this awakening person. A prophet sees the future more clearly, not in the sense of predicting what is going to happen, but in the sense of clarity about the options for human action that can be taken now and the probable outcomes of those actions or inactions. Being a global warming prophet today means getting the full extent to this problem stated in the kind of poetry that convicts the soul and enlivens the feet.
Burning fossil fuels is a “crime” of massive destruction against the planet and all its life forms, including humanity.
This is the core truth that a global warming prophet needs to cry out for “as long as it takes” for humanity to hear it and live it. Global warming deniers are rejecting this truth because it calls into question almost everything they believe, as well as entails a serious challenge to the self-interests that are protected by believing this truth to be false. Their very “self” is called in question. That is why their resistance is so strong.
Fossil fuel companies have already found and are planning to sell and put into the atmosphere three or more times as much carbon as required to set in motion unstoppable disasters. Yet their business plans show no interest in leaving some of that resource in the ground. Rather, they are making plans to find more. They are willing to extend their drilling to the depths of the oceans or to the most sensitive wilderness areas no matter what the consequences will be to those places or to the long range effects of burning that fuel.
A global warming prophet needs to point out that this makes those companies criminals – not against our inadequate current laws, but against humanity, the planet, and plain common sense.
To the somewhat more innocent general population, the global warming prophet must keep elaborating the following: “The Seas will rise, the hurricanes will become stronger and stronger. Eastern Seaboard cities of the US will become uninhabitable, washed to their deaths by so many floods that rebuilding is futile. Currently inhabited low-lying islands will disappear entirely. Bread baskets of rich agricultural land will become deserts. Previously dry places will become lakes. Floods and droughts will appear where they never experienced before.” Perhaps such language will get and is getting some people’s attention. But more is required. The case needs to be made that denying global warming, or the extent of its consequences, or the human agency in causing the CO2 buildup is a crime against humanity, the Earth, and plain honesty, even if it not yet a crime with regard to the laws of the society.
Furthermore, a truthful global-warming prophet will need to take on the moderate liberal in his or her halfway responding. “Even those of us who do believe the truth of global warming and its consequences and who are willing to act upon these realizations need to confess that we are nevertheless guilty of the crime of burning fossil fuels whenever we switch on a light or press the starter on our automobile. Even if we drive a Prius and opt for an electric bill that presupposes green energy production, we only moderate the evil in which we participate. There is no escape from participation in this criminal society in which we are embedded.”
Believing the truth of global warming means that for us to be persons of integrity, we must confess our guilt in supporting solutions to this crisis that are trivial. We are being called to upgrade our thought and action to a more serious level: namely, dismantling (rather than repairing) this entire social fabric and building an alternative way for all of us to live.
And this means: starting wherever we can best start. For example, the unneeded industry of tar-sands oil that is just starting up can be resisted totally – stopping it in its tracks no matter what the costs of doing so, no matter what our presidents and Congress persons are not willing to do. We prophets must make plain to a blurry-minded population that burning the tar-sand energy source may result in the end of life on earth for our species – or at least a set of catastrophes so immense that we do not want to even think about it.
Secondly, we can support a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants. Coal is making a comeback because it is currently cheaper than oil or natural gas, but coal is actually not needed for the transition away from fossil-fuel burning and toward an electro-hydrogen infrastructure energized mainly by solar and wind energy sources. We have to accept a period of transition from oil and natural gas to solar and wind, but we do not have to accept the lie that we cannot prosper without expanding our fossil fuel use, or that we need more time to build a meaningful alternative.
Furthermore, we global-warming prophets will need to call out our culture for minimizing the possibilities of an alternative energy system. The cost of solar and wind energy production has already come down to the same level as fossil fuels and is still falling. It is already the cheapest and least destructive way to go. People who claim that these technologies have not yet achieved the readiness needed for energizing our society are like the people who said the automobile was not ready because there were so few smooth roads for it, and it scared the horses.
Yes, a new infrastructure for solar and wind energy must be constructed; but however big this task may be, the facts of our situation simply do not support the foot-dragging pessimism that tells us that this transition cannot be accomplished at a quick-time pace. In his colorful book, Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save our Economy and our Planet from Dirty Energy, Danny Kennedy spells out how every rooftop can feasibly become right now a solar energy plant. And David Sanborne Scott in his book, Smelling Land: The Hydrogen Defense Against Climate Catastrophe, Enhanced Edition, shows how an infrastructure of hydrogen and electricity can deliver to us the power of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources in a manner that is fully adequate to fill our energy needs. He assures us that airliners using liquid hydrogen will be safer and cheaper than using jet fuel. May all the pessimists on these topics be healed!
The sophisticated lies of oil-company-financed think tanks can now be laughed off our TV screens and ripped out of our news magazines.
As time goes on, the above account will surely need to be tweaked and expanded; nevertheless, it illustrates the searing style of a truth-telling global-warming prophet. And we prophets are called to speak the truth whether people listen or not. And we are called to continue doing so for as long as it takes for almost everyone to hear it.
Gene Marshall together with Ben Ball, Marsha Buck, Ken Kreutziger, and Alan Richard have published a full examination of the above issues and more in a book entitled The Road from Empire to Eco-Democracy, published it iUniverse in cooperation with Berrett-Koehler’s Open Book Editions program. You can order it from iUniverse or Amazon in both e-book and paperback forms.