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1% Can Make All the Difference

Guest blogger - Clem Samuels

Vladislav Reshetnyak

On June 20,1988, Jame Hanson, a NASA climate scientist, told a congressional hearing that our climate was changing. He wasn't the first to notice climate change, for several years prior, a few scientists had been trying to sound the alarm.


But Hanson's testimony was the first to make the news. The June 21, 1988 the N.Y. Times had the front page headline "Global Warming Has Begun Expert Tells Congress." That was 31 years ago. Although we weren't sure in the beginning what it all meant, as the years went by it became a bit more clear.

So, what have we done?

One can point to wind generators, solar farms, electric cars, electric items that perform better on less energy, and other non-greenhouse gas producers. But today, coal still accounts for 38% of electric generation and is used in 71% of worldwide steel production.

The Guardian, in April, 2019, reported that there had been a 2.3% rise in global fuel consumption the previous 10 years. They reported coal use accounted for 1/3 of the increase. In fact, they said, coal and gas use accounted for 70% of the increase. That doesn't sound like progress to me.  Why hasn't more been done?

The answer is fairly simple, and put best by Fernando Canales Clariond, the former Mexican Secretary of the Economy. He pointed out, "The world doesn't move by idealism, it moves because of economic incentives."*

Surprise! It's all about the money.

In other words, make the reduction and elimination of green house gasses more profitable than creating them.  We seem to be moving in that direction, and maybe real progress can be made. However, there is another obstacle to fighting climate change that presents a bigger challenge. The people with most of the wealth.

According to the Credit Sussie 2018 Global Wealth report, 1% of the people in the world have 52% of the world's wealth. That is $164.84 trillion. (I understand that nothing is absolute, and not all mega-wealthy people want more, and some believe human made climate change is real. Those people are a tiny minority of the mega-wealthy.)

Throughout history, the ones with the most power and wealth have wanted to keep their power and wealth. Even get more if they can. They got their power in wealth in the system they were/are in. Why would they want to change the system? If all the, coal, oil, and gas people, if all the industrialists, mine owners, and developers acknowledged humans are the main reason the climate is changing, then they would have to change the way they do business.

It is the way they do business that got them their wealth and power. Their fear is if they change the way they do business their wealth and power will diminish. Many of those people will acknowledge the climate is changing. Then deny humans have anything to do with it.

There are people all over the world coming up with and implementing changes in behavior, developing non-greenhouse gas producing machines, doing all they can to to get the climate on an even keel.

Their biggest obstacle, the worlds biggest obstacle, are those top 1%. 

(Source material: Brian Vander Brug, LA Times)


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