Friday, November 24, 2023

Reality Bites

There is some good news from a source which, for obvious reasons, doesn’t often dwell on good news. Breitbart reports that NBC’s business news cable channel CNBC will no longer have staff dedicated to reporting climate news. The story is attributed to a laid-off former climate desk staff member.

There are still “Chicken Littles” and Thundering Greta out there crying “the sky is falling, the planet faces heat death.” A lot fewer are listening as the years pass and the predicted immanent catastrophes fail to materialize, one after another.


We’ll state COTTonLINE’s position one more time, for those who’ve joined us recently. Climates do change, have clearly done so forever without human intervention, and will do so in the future. We humans are just along for the ride.

Believing that puny human interventions of the sort we are capable of can move the climate in any direction is pure hubris. The forces we can bring to bear, when compared to the vast daily solar input, are minuscule, in fact insignificant. Tiny variations in solar output are overwhelmingly more determinative with respect to climate.

Consider that 70+ percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, where we have almost no lasting impact. Substantial parts of the balance are polar or deserts where few humans dwell. Our impact on this planet is minor and localized.

I visualize humanity as colonies of fleas scattered across the tough hide of an elephant named Gaia. We imagine incorrectly that our doings much influence her behavior or direct her progress. Occasionally Gaia sits down or sneezes and a colony - think Pompeii or Lahaina - is destroyed.

At most, like nomadic peoples, we befoul an area until it becomes unpleasant. Then we move elsewhere. Over a few centuries, Gaia reclaims the place we left behind. 

Once stood fabled pharaonic Egypt, Babylon, Troy or Carthage, each became a tel, a mound of dirt. It was ever thus, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.