Living-in-the-moment mentality and climate crisis concerns

By Charles Battig, M.D.

One seemingly irresistible charm of modern technology is that it makes so many things instantly available. Why irresistible? Because it resonates with the inner infant child who has never fully matured, yearns to “have it now,” and throws a temper tantrum if denied the latest want. Delayed gratification is so irritating. Growling Greta provided a prime example of this on the U.N. world stage in New York City recently. Closely allied is the eye-rolling accompanied by the ultimate demand to “do something” and “do it now, time is running out” on exhibit at the various orchestrated school strike demonstrations and political performances.

With an all-knowing and constant digital companion, “do it now” is just a command away. One need not bother to pick up a book or newspaper and actually read, research, and analyze. Crying out your request is so much easier and less mentally demanding. Click, click and dinner arrives at your doorstep. Over time, this ersatz parent entity becomes one’s constant companion and guardian. From an earlier and more innocent literary age, R. L. Stevenson’s “My Shadow” reflects a poetic analogy to this constant digital companion. A living-in-the-moment mentality of near instant gratification breeds a sense of now, diminishes the sense of past and future, and engenders a sense of an unchanging now as the norm by which our lives are defined. Botox treatments, promises of eternal youth, and deferred signs of aging are current manifestations of a desire to live in an unchanging present. Unwanted change has been targeted for remediation. Perhaps this obsession with an unchanging now is responsible for the current hysteria over climate change, because change is bad, and climate change is very bad.

The original, circa 2007, concern of Al Gore inspired environmental activists was the fear of the onset of run-away global warming linked to man-made carbon dioxide. Although it was, and remains, an unproved hypothesis, it had the allure of simplicity, some theoretical scientific underpinnings, and a causative target amenable to political regulation and commercial exploitation. For those worshiping at the climate crisis temple of Gaia, man-made carbon dioxide fulfills the primal need for someone or something to take the role of the outcast. Carbon dioxide is the chosen scapegoat. As a transference mechanism for relieving oneself of ill-defined feelings of guilt, minimizing the size of one’s carbon footprint ranks close to sorting trash and recycling. A nagging emptiness in one’s sense of meaning in life can be filled by filling the green trash container. Thus, repressed feelings of ill-defined guilt and social anxiety in a large segment of the general public have found relief in demonizing a trace atmospheric gas. Ignored is the fact that this gas is essential both to human and plant existence, as they are eternally intertwined in the dance of life sustained by the carbon dioxide /oxygen photosynthesis cycle.

People are used to having a thermostat in their homes to set a comfortable and unchanging temperature. Why not a imagine a global equivalent of a thermostat reflecting atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and maintaining that perfect, unchanging climate? The fact that the earth’s climate has always been changing by some measure, and over some time scale since day one, is disregarded. Recasting the natural phenomenon of climate change into something unnatural requiring a solution has been a success story for the eco-activist propagandists. Current thinking is limited to the present, and thus fails in the ability to conceptualize time spans encompassing hundreds, thousands of years or, more. Relevant geological time outstrips the limited timespans of contemporary comprehension. Embracing the carbon dioxide/climate thermostat concept excludes the need to look for further regulators of the climate. Changes in the orbit of the earth, changes in solar energy, and changes in planetary mechanics are needlessly more difficult to factor in than carbon dioxide levels. Considering changes in global cloud cover and atmospheric water vapor as drivers of climate just complicate the more emotionally accessible carbon dioxide thermostat in the sky reflecting mankind’s use of fossil fuel.

Claims of global warming, have morphed into climate weirding, on the way to climate change, and recently to carbon pollution. Any deviation from an un-specified, but idealized climate norm, is labeled as a “climate crisis,” and is automatically linked in the public’s mind to a dangerous carbon dioxide level, itself ill-defined, emanating from fossil fuel usage. Such climate crisis claims rest heavily on faulty computer models unable to accurately account for cloud cover and water vapor mechanics. The Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for Greenhouse Gas written by the much maligned M. Mann states that water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas. Yet it is carbon dioxide that garners all the political attention.

Living-in-the-moment mentality cannot distinguish between weather and climate. If the present is prominent, then the past is vague, and the concept of cycles in nature is foreign. Panicked claims of a climate crisis do not easily succumb to clear scientific facts. Presenting such contrary facts has proved terminal to many academic and professional careers in validation of Voltaire’s admonition: “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” Emotion rules the herd, and seems hard-wired into the reptilian brain of man.

What to do? Just ask your digital assistant, now.