A critical feature of Darwin’s theory is that for any species to exist, members of that species must be so well adapted to their environment that they will survive long enough to reach reproductive age and reproduce.
Leaping forward to 1985, Usenet discussion groups created the Darwin Award as a tongue-in-cheek honor to be granted to those who, by exhibiting exceptional stupidity in accidentally killing themselves, assured that their particular genes were not fit to survive and contribute to the gene pool of future generations.
Today we need a modified version of the Darwin Award, one that does not need to be awarded posthumously. I’ll call this new version the “Carbon Darwin Award”, or CDA. To be eligible for the CDA the recipient must not only be trying to take himself (the vast majority of Darwin Award winners have been men) out of the gene pool, but also children and grandchildren, his, yours, and mine.
Nominees for the CDA are easily identified because they are verbally self-nominating. Their favored mantra is “drill, drill, drill.”
Oh, I could ask them to consult “Greenhouse effect” on Wikipedia, but what good would that do? The chance that science could have the smallest effect on what their cult leader tells them is slightly above zilch. Unfortunately, the credulous not just killing their own, they are taking yours and mine with them.
This is a difficult problem to explain succinctly, but I must try. Who knows? Maybe a “driller” will be curious enough to investigate.
In a nutshell, since the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1700s, we have been exponentially taking gazillions of tons of carbon that was safely buried 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous era, and putting it into the air as carbon dioxide, a particularly potent “greenhouse gas” which is superbly effective in trapping heat. The greenhouse effect is our friend, to a point. Without it, Earth would be an ice planet. Problem is: we don’t want too much. Water vapor and a little carbon dioxide provides the warmth we need. Too much carbon dioxide not only works to dangerously increase the average global temperature of Earth, it also acidifies our oceans, being especially detrimental to creatures at the bottom of the food chain.
If you wish, you can track the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO. Here, NOAA publishes monthly updates from their main CO2 recording station at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Measurements started there in 1960, so these charts do not show that CO2 in our atmosphere before the Industrial Revolution was at 280 ppm (parts per million) and at no time in the last 800,000 years had it exceeded 300 ppm. Today it stands at 421 ppm and is increasing by about 2.5 ppm every year.
Some of those who deny that global temperature is rising are like frogs in the cooking pot, where slowly rising temperature of the water is not immediately perceived to be a problem, that is, until it is too late. Some say “I don’t live near the ocean, so rising sea level is not a problem for me.” Others say “I don’t live in an area subject to hurricanes or tornados, so no big deal.”
But there are effects of climate change that affect everyone. It’s just that they’re not immediately obvious. Changing weather patterns are creating drought conditions in many areas where food production once was high. This is one of the reasons why we see so many people from South and Central America migrating north.
It’s not that we must immediately stop drilling; our economy and the world’s is too dependent on fossil fuels for energy needs. It’s that we must transition as fast as we can from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and nuclear.
In sum, boneheads vying for the CDA who keep shouting “drill, drill, drill,” are sending the wrong message. Our grandkids will pay the price.
Bob Moores retired from Black & Decker/DeWalt in 1999 after 36 years. He was the Director of Cordless Product Development at the time. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University