JACK SPENCER: Climate change, corporate welfare from a distance

“Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d all have frozen to death.”

— Mark Twain

Buzz and Fuzz are from a faraway planet. They’ve been monitoring the planet Earth about two billion years. Buzz is permanently based near Earth where he can keep an eye on what’s happening; Fuzz only stops by once every 100 years.

Fuzz — “What do you have to report?”

Buzz — “Let’s see; the last time you were here was March of 1914; quite a lot has happened since then. As a matter of fact, only a few months after you visited, the humans had a huge war — it is now called World War I. At the time they said it was the war that would end all wars.”

Fuzz — “Did it end all wars?”

Buzz — “No, it just led to a bigger war about 20 years later and there have been a lot of other wars since.”

Fuzz — “That figures. So, I suppose the humans are still providing most of the action on the planet; are they making any progress?”

Buzz — “It depends on what you call progress. There are a lot more of them than there used to be. They have developed the use of electric lights extensively, which makes the view of the planet on the side away from the sun very pleasant.”

Fuzz — “How about intelligence? Have they made any headway in that area?

Buzz — “It’s hard to say. They often seem quite clever and advance in respect to things like medicine, communication and transportation; but the next thing you know, they fall back again.”

Fuzz — “What do mean?”

Buzz — “For instance, remember how we’ve observed that the climate of Earth has constantly been in flux, going from one extreme to the other?”

Fuzz — “Yeah, it was the primary source of entertainment on the planet for 100s of millions of years. There would be severe changes that lasted millions of years; everything from mass glaciers that nearly covered continents to periods when warm shallow seas and vegetation dominated vast areas. There would also be smaller, almost constant changes varying from draughts to humid spells that lasted anywhere from a few thousand years to just a few decades.”

Buzz — “Well, now there are a bunch of humans who claim human activity is causing the climate changes.”

Fuzz — “You’re kidding. How can they make that claim? Earth’s climate has been constantly changing since before humans figured out how to smack two stones together?”

Buzz — “I know, but that’s what some of them are saying. First, after a few cold years, they said humans were making it colder. Then, when there were some warner years, they claimed humans were making it warmer. Now they’re saying that no matter what happens it’s being caused by human activity.”

Fuzz — “Has there been any progress in the area of government?

Buzz — “No, not really. Those in power promise to serve everyone, but instead they use power to serve themselves and hand out favors to their friends and other influential humans.”

Fuzz — “As I recall, that’s what human leaders did back when they lived in caves, roamed around hunting with sharp sticks and gathered nuts and berries. They always doled out favors to a pack of buddies and ruffians in order to insulate and enhance their power.

All along the humans who control governments have tried to keep the influential favor-seekers happy. This started when they called themselves chiefs and continued on when they gave themselves titles like pharaoh, sultan, king and queen. Apparently little has changed over the years.”

Buzz — “The humans have come up with a term to describe the influential pack of favor-seekers; they call them special interests. There is also a term for when those who run government do favors for the favor-seekers; it is called corporate welfare. Most of the humans who aren’t in government hate corporate welfare.”

Fuzz — “That’s interesting. The fact that they’ve identified this behavior enough to give it a name sounds encouraging. Do you think the majority of humans will force the ones in the governments to end corporate welfare?

Buzz — “No, the humans in governments have found a way to keep getting away with it. They have some of the favor-seekers do stuff that is supposed to fight the climate change they’ve been claiming is being caused by human activity; and they call the stuff “green.” As I said, most humans who aren’t in government hate corporate welfare, but millions of them don’t seem to recognize corporate welfare if they are told it is “green.”

Fuzz — “That’s pretty tricky. Do you think the humans in governments invented the story about human activity causing climate change specifically as a way to protect corporate welfare?”

Buzz — “Nope, the humans in governments and the favor-seekers rarely invent new ideas; they just steal ideas to use for their own purposes.

Fuzz — “How about the other species on planet Earth; anything new going on with them?”

Buzz — “Less of them are going extinct; compared to 110,000 years ago when that last glacial age started. The crocodiles and turtles are still boring, but the polar bears are fun to watch.”