In the latest iteration of the Marvel universe, the third volume of Guardians of the Galaxy has been criticized for relying on cheap humor and outlandish characters, like an animated raccoon and his rag-tag friends. I disagree, and apparently so do many others. The movie’s been a smashing success at the box office, raking in more than $500 million so far.
The film focuses heavily on the animated raccoon, Rocket’s, origin story, in which he spent his youth in the lab of a cruel scientist determined to genetically engineer a perfect society. Deep within this plot, there’s an important lesson about social engineering that we can apply to many issues, from family life to economics. This lesson also applies to climate change, one of the most prominent topics of our time.
Modern environmental activists tend to dream up what they consider a perfect, utopian society, where human greed has disappeared, and Mother Nature is restored to her former glory. If humans would simply reduce our footprint, they assert, the planet could heal itself, and climate change would be solved. Big, one-size-fits-all solutions like the Green New Deal are the silver bullet that will hold greedy capitalists accountable for their climate sins. Instead of relying on “unnatural” sources of energy, such as nuclear power or fossil fuels, which should be banned, we must strive for a society powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
While the concern of climate activists is understandable, this all-or-nothing, ideological approach to environmental issues is so unrealistic that it risks missing the forest for the trees. Just as the “High Evolutionary” in Guardians of the Galaxy created an entire planet of genetically modified organisms only to destroy them all because it never reached his expectations, this pursuit of climate perfection will only result in disappointment and disaster.
Back here in the real world, we must put climate progress over climate perfection. While solar and wind energy sound nice, we will also require technologies like nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage. For the foreseeable future, the world also still needs fossil fuels, if we want to avoid collapsing the global economy overnight. Moreover, solar panels and wind turbines don’t come out of nowhere; they require enormous amounts of raw materials such as critical minerals, which are mined in places like China and the Congo with dreadful environmental and human rights records. All technologies and solutions have trade-offs, including the ones that appear “perfect.” Addressing climate change means achieving both environmental protection and human flourishing; one without the other is meaningless.
We cannot get so caught up in building a perfect future that we lose sight of reality. The High Evolutionary created a talking raccoon capable of solving problems his own scientists couldn’t—but it wasn’t enough. Going 100 percent renewables overnight, or rejecting technologies like nuclear power, or banning fossil fuels are all pipedream ideas that get thrown around but have no basis in reality.
Instead, we should be pursuing dynamic, diverse energy solutions such as further developing carbon capture technology to decarbonize the fossil fuel industry, developing next-generation nuclear power, expanding hydropower and geothermal energy, and yes—investing in renewables like wind and solar.
The point here is that there is not one single solution—no perfect energy source with no trade-offs. That’s why an all-of-the-above approach is so important not just for energy, but for climate solutions writ large. We should be reducing emissions in any way we can, not just the “ideal” way. That means pursuing increasingly clean energy sources including nuclear power and natural gas, planting trees, and restoring ecosystems, and, importantly, reducing government barriers such as crazy long regulatory delays for new energy projects.
We cannot engineer a perfect society—in the face of climate change or any other challenge we face. Climate action is ongoing and ever-changing, and we’ll face additional challenges and roadblocks along the way. There’s no climate perfection—just active climate progress.
Source : Newsweek