Is Climate Change real? Unfortunately, yes. If that's news to you, welcome to the party. Sadly, large numbers of Americans still deny that climate change is real. But what will people do when they realize climate change is serious?
This chilling question, posed by an astute friend, haunts me whenever a pundit echos an 'easy way out' meme. One day it's "we need to invest in carbon fixation". The next day: "nuclear plants can save the world from climate change". The latter is a convenient way to divide TreeHuggers with a fight that bumps other positive solutions out of the news cycle. That's the steady state of broadcast and print news. TreeHuggers expect no change. This dullness, however, masks powerful emerging forces: the reactions of ordinary people and their elected representatives, once it hits home that Climate Change is serious. Check out this list of predictions, choices and outcomes. See which seem plausible. A word of caution: not all items are positive, as the Law of Unintended Consequences looms.1. TreeHuggers get on the radical efficiency message and stay on it, forcing public officials to take seriously the "Soft Path" of Amory Lovins, et al. Multiple industry lobbies come to realize that this route is better for them than any other "one off" solution that targets only a single technology. People get behind it because it keeps jobs at home.
2. Millions of people get really interested in Green Building. TreeHuggers get appointed to planning commissions and zoning boards, looking for off-the-web opportunities to promote it's resource efficiencies and attractive comforts.
3. Rising demand elevates the price of many eco-efficient products beyond the means of the low income households. This leads to distinct brand segmentation around price and performance.
4. Renewable energy stocks, on average, steadily grow at a far greater pace than even the best fossil fuel companies, leading to an "irrational exhuberance" for alternative energy stocks on the part of Wall Street stalwarts.
5. New cults appear that rely on climate change dread for recruitment and fundraising, blaming environmentalists for incurring the wrath of God, while applauding Armageddon.
6. Some TreeHuggers sit by, content with scapegoating.
7. Voters beg government to "do something". Consequently, a huge number of hairbrained solutions proliferate from the US Congress.
8. US Balance of trade is made more negative as US consumers shop increasingly overseas for the best and most beautiful eco-efficient goods.
9. TreeHugger servers crash under onslaught of site visits.
10. Owners symbolically burn their own SUV's in downtown streets after a brief period of gas shortage.
11. The difference between political right and political left is blurred by the common interest in environment. "Bad Weather Friends Syndrome" fosters tremendous grass roots communication, collaboration, and organizing.
12. Extensive top-of-market real estate speculation arises in regions that, long range models predict, will see relatively minor adverse impacts.
13. Rush of businesses to hire creative TreeHugger-types.
14. Increased numbers of sham or badly designed "green products" coming to market.
What else will happen when people realize Climate Change is real?
Add your predictions in the comments. Items can be grouped into good, bad, or ugly bins; or maybe short- mid- and long-range outcome bins; or maybe just ranked from most- to least- plausible.
What then TreeHuggers? Might we tip the future this way or that?