Despite an abundance of scientific evidence and public tumult, there exists a sizable ensemble still fervently denying the existence of a climate crisis. In fact, companies of the like of Exxon Mobil are actively donating to political candidates who deny a climate crisis.
In 2013, the Pew Research Center published a study citing that only 1 in 4 Americans see global warming as a threat.
The harsh reality is that climate change is the biggest obstacle humankind has ever faced.
Scientific evidence indicates that the major contributor to current climate shifts is the excessive emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas emissions have exceeded the highest concentrations recorded during the past 800,000 years. Corporations and individuals are wasting fossil fuels – as if there were no alternatives. The reality is that we cannot drill our way out of the pending climate crisis.
Denial, on a small scale, is inevitable. As in other facets of life, denial is often used as a defense mechanism. Not surprisingly, those who are profiting from the exploitation of fossil fuels see no harm. A renowned principle of psychology is the tendency of the brain to react to abrupt events, but largely ignore gradual transformations.
This Sunday, September 21st, world leaders will congregate in New York City for The People’s Climate March – an event anticipated to be the “largest climate march in history”. Attendance is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands – this collaboration represents individuals and organizations expressing concern and desperation for change. Will one day of marching force change? Unlikely. Nonetheless, history portrays that social movements have, at times, driven change. If large enough in scale, social movement has the potential to move the needle enough to coerce those in power to take action.
In fact, some of the major oil companies have started to embrace the idea of a carbon tax, despite the obvious detriment to demand. Shell, for example, is publicly advocating a carbon tax as a viable first step. Presumably, Shell has identified a carbon tax as the “lesser evil” of what could befall the company from quotas or other forms of government regulation. The imposition of a global carbon tax would be a tremendous victory for the ESG Vigilantes.