I spend a lot of time visiting fishing lodges all over the world. Most of the time, because of the expense, travel, and time required to visit these lodges, they are primarily occupied by rich old white men (ROWM). Not quite sure what that says about me, but….
As you might anticipate, the ROWM demographic tends to be Republican and conservative. That’s not to say they aren’t often really terrific guys. I’ve had many great times – and some really interesting conversations – with my ROWM friends (they tend to drink really good scotch too). Most are smart (despite their inexplicable love of Fox News), and I think they have a genuine sense of patriotism where America is concerned. However, things often turn a little more heated when we discuss certain subjects, especially climate change. As you might expect, despite a decade of irrefutable evidence, ROWM tend to be climate change deniers.
So I was surprised a couple weeks ago, while visiting a fishing lodge in Argentina, to hear a major shift in a ROWM position. One night at dinner, my graying, Obama-hating, retired investment banker friends suddenly announced, “climate change is real – but there is no evidence that man has anything to do with it.”
OK, I thought. At least they are finally acknowledging it is a problem, so I probed further…
“Wow, so you believe in climate change,” I asked one of the ROWM. “And do you think it is a big problem?”
“Oh yeah,” they replied. ” It’s a major issue. Course I know the verdict is out as to whether or not man really had anything to do with it, but I know it is very serious.”
And then they told me that they thought it would finish off mankind. End of the world, Mad Max kind of stuff. “Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about it,” they said glumly. “The damn Chinese and Indians are going to continue to pollute, so we’re toast.”
I didn’t point out the obvious gap in logic. Americans are the biggest carbon polluters, and ff man really has nothing to do with climate change, what does it matter what the Chinese and Indians do? But…… I have to admit trepidation at their willingness to just surrender. It’s a bit frightening to see people going from utter denial of a problem, to suddenly accepting that the problem will mean the end of mankind. It’s like a guy that ignores a huge mole on his leg, insisting it is fine, then one day announces he’s going to die of cancer.
Certainly there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about our environmental future. California is a year away from running out of water – threatening a large part of our food supply. Even in Oregon, one of the last places on earth you would ever have to worry about droughts, experts are predicting dire water situations in the coming year. Almost everywhere I travel in the world there is either not enough water, or too much. Unfortunately climate change will necessitate many major changes in the way we all live, beginning a lot sooner than any of us had anticipated.
But surrendering to the problem is not an option, and there are tiny rays of optimism in the doom and gloom. Alternative green energy is moving much faster than anticipated. Solar energy production is 48 times higher than the projections established in 2000, and wind energy production is 17 times higher. In fact, renewable energy now accounts for 13% of energy production (increasing 5% over the last 12 years), including wind which produces 4% of our energy.
Imagine what would happen if we quit debating whether or not climate change is real, and instead put our total attention and resources towards solving the problem. There are a lot of ROWM out there that have a proven history of solving problems and winning battles. I would love to have them participate in a solution.