The Dangerous Contrivance of “Climate Change”

Kirkpatrick Sale
Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Aug. 24, 2023

It’s time to put an end to this whole “climate change” contrivance.

In the first place, “climate change” is meaningless jargon. Of course climate changes, that’s what seasons are for. What the U.N. IPCC reports are all about is global overheating, that’s the problem—and its attendant problems, a decrease in the reflective albedo effect, ice melting at the poles and mountains, oceans rising and overheating, excessive moisture and altered weather patterns, and excessive heat on the earth, seriously affecting both humans and rainforests.  And that leaves out non-attendant problems like ocean acidification and coral reef destruction, and the extinction of species on an unprecedented scale.

In the second, the problem of global overheating is so acute and pervasive that no amount of meliorative efforts that may be made now has any chance of halting it or reining it in.  For all the talk of limiting carbon dioxide emissions, these have increased steadily for the last two decades and show no signs of slowing, and world temperatures have increased steadily as well, with the hottest years since 1850 coming in the last five years.   There are no actions by humans underway now or even contemplated in the next decadess that, even if efficiently undertaken and carried out—which is problematic—have any chance of changing that in any serious way.  The Paris limit of 1.5 Celsius overheating will be passed within a year.

And in the third, all the talk about “climate change” directs the world’s attention away from what is the real central problem: the effect of unmitigated capitalist growth ravaging the resources and systems of the earth and its atmosphere.  Once understood as the problem, it becomes obvious that nothing whatsoever that is being talked about under the silly rubric “climate change” will come close to pointing us in the direction of a solution.  Indeed, once understood, it is doubtful that there is any “solution.”

Solar energy captured non-mechanically, wind power used at a human scale, and water power in limited circumstances might well prove to be the best energy sources for a modest environmentally adjusted human society. But what is going on now is the attempt to use those sources to replace a massive global superstructure built on fossil fuels, without any diminishment of high-tech lifestyles or the consumption and consumerism it entails.  It cannot be done. It is the high-tech lifestyles that must be changed.

Trying to replace combustion engines with electric vehicles is the outstanding example of the folly we fall into when we fail to understand what problem we need to face.  EVs, we learn, are built at a high environmental cost throughout, are large and heavy vehicles, have so-far-unreliable batteries, and—if they are intended to replace the millions of vehicles now in use—will need a massive infrastructure of charging stations, where they will need to use electricity created, at least for the foreseeable future, by fossil fuels.  Even well into the future, the amount of gasoline being thus saved will amount to only a fractionof the amount needed to have a significant effect on the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.  And in the meantime China and India are building coal plants so as to try to get the standard of living that the West created that caused global overheating in the first place.

I said that I don’t believe that, even if this society dared to own up to the problem, which is doubtful, we would ever be able to find or agree to a solution to it.  It seems likely, alas, that global overheating will continue to disrupt the earth’s systems at greater and greater catastrophic levels for the foreseeable future.


Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of seventeen books.  A 50th anniversary reprint of his classic SDS has been published this fall (Autonomedia).

[Top photo: Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair]