OPINION: Getting Serious About Climate Change

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by Glenn Scherer

Last week, Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson took time away from counting his company’s billions to tell those of us worried about climate change to chill. The problem, he said unequivocally, is “manageable.”

Speaking at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York, the CEO admitted that, “Increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere will have a warming impact.” But then he told the entire human race to stop being crybabies about it. “We have spent our entire existence adapting, OK? So we will adapt to this… It’s an engineering problem and it has an engineering solution.”

In the spirit of Rex Tillerson’s tough love, can-do attitude, I here offer 10 novel engineering adaptations to climate change – all yielding huge profits!

1. Go with the Flow: Put the Army Corps of Engineers to work moving coastal cities onto really big rafts. So when sea levels rise, those skyscrapers just lift off their moorings and float. Cars will need to float too, which will transform New York City into the East Coast Venice. I’m still working out the bit about putting subways on rafts.

2. Global Warming Road Trip: Gather up the earth’s richest farmland and put it on wheels! That’s right, when corn no longer grows in drought and heat stressed Kansas, U.S. Agribusiness can pick up the Great Plains and roll them north. I’ve already got the State Department working on the little quandary of what to do when the soil trucks get to the Canadian border.

3. Entertain Ourselves Out of the Climate Crisis: Get Disney to imagineer animatronic animals to replace all those that go extinct due to climate change. Display them at a giant Polar Bear Country Jamboree. Likewise, have Disney make a movie called The Earth Is Just Fine! showing that those glaciers haven’t melted one bit.

4. Treat the Oceans as You Would a Bad Stomachache: Our oceans, which are currently processing massive amounts of acidifying CO2, need our help. Engineering solution: mega-doses of Maalox, Tagamet, and Tums. Put antacids and Big Pharma to work to save the coral reefs from dissolving, and then watch those ingenious companies make a hefty profit.

5. Fireproof Homes: Wildfires worldwide are dramatically increasing. The solution is simple: Don’t stop the fires. Stop making houses out of wood! The next time nature spontaneously bursts into flame, just shut the windows, turn on the air-conditioning, and watch those wildfires blaze through the neighborhood. Or go down to the family room and watch The Earth Is Just Fine!

6. The Arctic Astrodome: Many fear that the Arctic will melt, absorb sunlight, and make the earth hotter. No problem! We build a vast astrodome out of thick, shatterproof, white plastic that fits neatly over the Arctic Ocean. It floats, but unlike ice, doesn’t break up. You cover the whole thing with white-roofed mega-malls and turn what once was a useless ice sheet into a shopping destination.

7. Keep the Critters Cool: As global temps soar, some worry that animals will die from the heat. No problem! Outfit those endangered critters with air-conditioned sun-block suits and water-filled sippy-hats. In fact, as temps soar, humans will want to don similar outfits. Fashion industry: get busy!

8. Encourage Obesity: Stop trying to force people to be thin. Everybody knows that fat floats. So, supersize us! Get Frito Lay and McDonalds to do some real bioengineering! Then when your community sees its next record flood, just float down to Burger King to enhance your spare tire… or in this case, life preserver.

9. The Montgomery Burns Solution: I got this idea from watching the Simpsons. Let’s launch a really big satellite to block the sun and cool us down. The sun-satellite could also serve as an in-orbit mall, fast food restaurant, and vacation destination.

10. Big Oil Big Idea: Since Rex Tillerson just ordered the rest of us to adapt to climate change, how about if Exxon does its part to stop blocking climate legislation, and puts some of the $137 billion in profits it made last year into alternative energy, or into compensation for people whose livelihoods and homes are being ravaged by global warming?

Come on Rex, do your part!

Glenn Scherer is senior editor of Blue Ridge Press. Send him your own climate change “adaptive engineering” ideas at: scherer@blueridgepress.com

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