A Climate interview: Fred in Quebec
Age 60, male, retired [‘Fred’ is a fictitious name]
Fred, thanks for sharing your time with me. We’ve already talked a bit so I think we can jump straight into things.
So, do you think that man made climate change is happening?
Yes, I do, but it has always been happening, that is, the climate has always been evolving. However, I think that our human imprint of the last 100 years is now having a radical impact and this is different than any naturally occurring change in the past in this way; our activities are accelerating any changes by our burning of fossil fuels.
Are you concerned?
I have been very concerned for the last 15 years, more so during the past year because of all the news I am hearing about those in power are basically throwing up their hands into the air and either denying it is happening or pretending to act but actually doing nothing. The denial, in particular, makes me even more stressed and yes, I do see the Trump administration as a bunch of deniers.
How does this make you feel?
Sad, but I don’t lose any sleep over it. Although I have talked a bit with my wife about this I have not talked with our kids. I think I’ve done my bit – I recycle, compost, I am careful about only buying what I need and only throw things out when they really don’t work any more – but I have not reduced my driving and it has certainly not affected my flying – if I want a nice holiday down south I take it! If I think about what this choice is doing for climate change [which is seldom, if ever] I just say “fuck it!” – I need a holiday.
How do reconcile this choice to not act with the scope of the problem?
I don’t. While I sometimes feel bad for a moment, I still do what I want to do. Quite frankly, I only become aware of the issue when I talk to somebody like you are perhaps during National Geographic special I am watching on TV – otherwise I just bury my head in the sand like an ostrich – and I admit that this is a conscious choice. While I am aware that I could do more I do not think I am avoiding the issue completely, well, I guess it is partly or even mostly avoidance now that I think about it, but, it is simply not part of my lifestyle to think about this kind of an issue. I just don’t have it in me to even begin to make changes in my life to address it. Simply put, I just live my life.
Would it help to know how to live carbon free by electrifying all your energy demand, being that you live in Quebec where electricity is cheap?
Yes, knowing some details would help, but I kind of know what I could do. For example, I know I could buy an electric car, but that would take an effort that I am unwilling to make. Furthermore, these choices are expensive and I do not think I would get a good return on my investment, although I admit that I have not looked into it.
What do you see for the future?
We are headed for a disaster as we are travelling down the wrong road. The governments and big business seem content with the status quo and there is nothing I can do about that.
How then would you respond to this provocative quote by Tod Cory:
“The behaviour which leads to climate change is not a government mandate. they are not responsible for my behaviour and the non-negotiable lifestyles of 7.6 billion, rapidly breeding, rapacious human yeast. sheesh… at this late date can we please, finally go look in the mirror???”
OK, so you are making the point that I can’t blame governments because they will only do what the voters want as I don’t want to change they won’t make any changes – I get that. But big business is different, for them it is all about power and making lots of money. From my work I know what wealth does to people: those that have it want to keep it and make more – I think you would have to kill them before they would freely give up their privileged status. Understanding that makes me a bit sympathetic to the anarchists who resort to violence for social justice – they have no other option if they are to survive. So, maybe, we need some anarchist action right now.
How have you educated yourself about climate change?
Mostly I watch Nature shows in PBS or National Geographic specials. I do not read any scientific articles and while I do like to read I read only fiction and journals on computer software.
So that means you have to figure out who to believe in the mainstream media or online sources that often contradict each other: how do you figure out who is credible and thus who to believe?
I believe whomever is more educated and has done more climate science. I think that I am intelligent enough to know that my uninformed opinion cannot define anybody’s response so I believe climate scientists more than any other source.
Do you think that it is possible that these Scientists have an ‘agenda’ that may bias what they say?
I do think that there is an evil side to what and why some scientists say because we all lie sometimes. I know that some, say 20%, of scientists say that there is no man made climate change and I think they are probably funded by vested interests that are making money with fossil fuels and probably fund these scientists. However, I think most non-religiously biased or corporate funded scientists do not have an agenda except to tell it like it is.
Any final comments Fred?
Basically this a topic that is NOT part of my life and certainly not something I ever talk about with family or friends. I recycle, but I know that even that is a big deceit as I and others are only pretending to do something to reduce pollution but it makes no difference. I feel that we are but pawns and government can’t do anything because corporations actually run the world. I think corporate America is laughing right now because the general public is so unaware of who really has power and how that power controls how the world really works.
Is there anything I can share with you as a thank you for your time?
Well, if you have some non-technical stuff on the power and politics of climate change and ways that I could de-carbonize that would be great.
[I sent him links to Chris Hedges and a Quebec government report electric cars and my Carbon Pledge]