On Wednesday, WIRED magazine published an essay by David Karpf on an art project called the 10,000-year clock. The piece is “meant to inspire its visitors to be mindful of their place in the long arc of history,” by ticking once a year, with a century hand that moves once every 100 years, and a dual-gong strike every 1,000 years.
The clock was proposed by scientist Danny Hillis, and now Jeff Bezos is spending some $42 million to build it inside a mountain he owns, behind jade doors and visible from a staircase inside a sapphire-glass dome, where one can listen to one of 3.65 million unique chimes written by Brian Eno.
Well, one could experience it if they were invited to the Bezos compound, which speaks to Karpf’s main point. Though the project is nobly intentioned, Karpf writes, it’s really “a testament to willful blindness, as today’s tech barons whistle past the grim realities of the oncoming catastrophe that is man-made climate destabilization.”
“One of the grim realities of climate politics today is that the elites bankrolling climate-denier politicians have made a simple calculation,” Karpf explains. “They aren’t betting that the scientific consensus is wrong. They are betting that the impacts of climate change won’t fall directly on them. They’ll either die before the [collapse] begins or their wealth will help shield them from its impacts.”
Fortunately, there are no more climate-denier politicians, right? Republicans are now, according to some credulous reporting, all on board with climate change and preparing to roll out solutions, right?
Perhaps not, according to…other Republicans. Forgive our harping on this topic again, but yesterday the Washington Examiner’s Josh Seigel ran a story about how “Republicans have convinced their most conservative members to support a forthcoming plan for the federal government to address climate change.”
They’ve done so, Seigl reports, by crafting a plan that doesn’t actually address climate change by reducing fossil fuel use, but merely sounds like it would while in fact promoting fossil fuels. And it’s not us saying that, it’s them. As Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said, “you can call it political calculus or representing the people you represent,” but whatever you call it, “we do need a message for them” – referring to those who are concerned about climate change.
Note that he did not say we need a plan, or policy, or actual course of action for them. No, they only need a message.
Similarly, Garret Graves (R-LA) said that what they are “asking members to do is to double down… so it’s not like we’ve gone out there to the Freedom Caucus to say, ‘We are asking you to take a hard left turn.’” Straight from the source, it’s not actually a change at all, but a doubling down on the GOP’s pro-fossil-fuel stance.
After all, Graves said, “Fossil fuels aren’t the enemy. It’s emissions.” That’s like arguing the Civil War was about states rights, as opposed to slavery. (And if you think natural gas should be used as a bridge to clean energy, bear in mind what MIT’s Jessika Trancik recently told InsideClimateNews about her study on the coal-to-gas switch: “we’re kind of nearing the end of the bridge.”)
That said, there are two House Republicans who support an actual conservative-friendly policy to reduce emissions, a carbon tax. One is Florida Rep. Francis Rooney, who was apparently not involved with this effort, or indeed even consulted by the supposedly pro-climate conservatives. And he knew why: “They are not ready to talk about the things I am ready to talk about.” (i.e. reducing fossil fuel use.)
But perhaps we’re being too cynical, and Republicans might really have a shot at making climate progress under the Trump administration. Speaking of whom, what’s the administration’s take on all this, anyway?
Per a Trump administration official, these “are messaging bills and all about the next election, and that’s great. But the president has been pretty clear that he cares about affordable energy, energy independence, and clean air and clean water. He is not particularly obsessed about climate change.” Ah, so Team Trump makes it clear that these are an empty attempt to convince voters that Republicans care about climate change without actually doing anything about it.
Trump may be the biggest liar to ever sit in the Oval Office, but hey, even a stopped clock is still right once every 10,000 years!