All sensible people are environmentalists. We want to enjoy clean air, land, and water and we like to think that future generations will live in an even better environment. These were the original objectives of Earth Day and I am happy to have presented at Earth Day events in the early 1990s.
However, in recent years, Earth Day has been hijacked by the climate change movement. Today, the Earth Day home page starts:
Earth Day 2017’s Campaign is Environmental & Climate Literacy
Education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet.
The U.N.’s My World global survey shows that Earth Day organizers are out of touch with average people around the world. After almost 10 million people from 194 countries have been polled, “action taken on climate change” rates dead last out of the 16 suggested priorities for the United Nations.
For most of the world, and especially those in developing nations, the message is clear: in comparison with access to reliable energy and clean water, better healthcare, government honesty, a good education, and protecting forests, rivers and oceans, climate change is not important.
Besides the strategic blunder of focusing Earth Day on an issue that the people of the world do not seem to particularly care about, there is a serious ethical problem that will come back to haunt organizers if they don’t soon change focus.
Reports such as those of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change illustrate that debate rages in the scientific community about the causes and consequences of climate change. Scientists cannot even agree on whether warming or cooling lie ahead, let alone the degree to which we affect it. Yet, climate campaigners assert that ‘the science is settled.’ We know with certainty, they claim, that our carbon dioxide emissions will cause a planetary emergency unless we radically change our ways.
The consequence of this overconfidence is tragic. According to the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative, of the over $1 billion spent worldwide each day on climate finance, 94% goes to mitigation, trying to control future climate. Only 6% of global climate finance is dedicated to helping vulnerable people cope with climate change today. In developing countries, even less, an abysmal 5%, goes to adaptation. Based on a theory about climate, we are letting people die today so as to possibly help those yet to be born.
As the public come to understand how immature the science of climate change actually is, they will regard today’s funding situation as immoral and the focus of today’s Earth Day ridiculous.
That scenario, not hypothetical future climate states, is what should most concern Earth Day organizers.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (www.ClimateScienceInternational.org).