David Moyer: Appeasing the climate gods
Our distant ancestors faced threats such as fires, droughts, famines, diseases, floods, wars, earthquakes and volcanoes.
One way to control the vagaries of their fragile existence was to provide sacrifices to the gods, human sacrifices that is. Evidence of these sacrifices has been found in such places as Greece, Mexico, the Andes, even Cahokia, a city that existed around A.D. 1000 near the St. Louis of today.
A priest in these cultures would sacrifice his kinfolk in times of plenty and famine. A bad outcome might suggest the sacrifices were inadequate and more were needed. A good outcome might suggest that the appropriate god(s) had been appeased and the sacrifices must continue.
As any gambling executive will tell you, intermittent reinforcement will reward preceding behaviors. Primitives believed they could influence the very gods who controlled the forces of nature. Over time, when people came to realize that these forces of nature were not divinely inspired, the practices ceased. However, the idea of a vengeful god punishing his people was still present about 400 years ago when religious leaders objected to Benjamin Franklin developing the lightning rod. Lightning was seen as one of God’s instruments of justice. The lightning rod represented man’s attempt to prevent loss of life and property.
Our ancestors believed they could manipulate the gods to their advantage. As the recent fires in California demonstrate, we are still faced with overpowering natural forces. However, we have lost the simplicity of our primitive ancestors — or have we?
What does this have to do with the climate gods?
Three years ago, my wife and I visited Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. During a tour of the bay looking for whales, we learned that the current 20th century warming is not unique. A similar warming trend occurred circa A.D. 1000. During that time, a clan of the Huna Tlingit lived in a valley now known as Berg Bay. In the mid 1500s the valley started filling with ice. The natives moved south. By 1770, the entire bay was a glacier. Now it is a bay again. Global warming in A.D. 1000? It appears that with or without man-caused carbon dioxide spewing into the atmosphere, Mother Nature has seen fit to warm and cool the globe at different times.
Now I am no climate scientist, but if Mother Nature can see fit to transform glaciers into rivers running down verdant valleys populated by Native Americans, and back to glaciers again without our carbon dioxide, one does have to wonder if we are overstating our role in climate change.
A Google search for “CO2 fertilization effect” will demonstrate that the CO2 increases are stimulating plant growth, which, in turn, slows the increase in greenhouse gases. Dr. Frances Moore, an assistant professor of environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis, states that doubling CO2 from pre-industrial levels will boost the productivity of crops like wheat by some 11.5 percent and of those such as corn by around 8.4 percent. However, this will deplete already depleted levels of nutrients in the soil, and thus in the nutritional content of foods.
Today, conventional wisdom blames mankind for global warming. Some even propose sacrificing the traditional energy industries to appease the climate gods. President Obama offered the entire state of West Virginia as a sacrifice to these gods. Governor Brown, instead of signing the 2016 Wildfire Management Bill that would have removed millions of dead trees, tried to reduce carbon emissions at the state, federal and international levels. He recently signed a bill that mandated carbon-free electricity in California by 2045. The climate gods apparently are still not pleased. They must want more sacrifices and they are getting them. Now I like clean energy as well as anyone and neither coal or gasoline are clean, but that is a different issue than the wholesale sacrifice of industries to halt global warming.
Anyone who had read my books or columns in The Union would know that my writings focus on areas where we can make a difference: improved nutrition and treatment of chronic infections for brain health, minimizing glyphosate in our foods and lowering levels of radio frequencies. To that limited list I now add the following: better management of our forests and enrichment of our soils. Man-made global warming is a red herring.
David Moyer, Lt. Col. USAF ret, LCSW ret., lives in Penn Valley.
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