Accountability depends on how you see it. Being held accountable, or responsible, depends on whether you accept responsibility, or if a more powerful agent (like your government) holds you liable. You can’t get blood from a stone.
The strange reversal of environmental accountability since our recent elections, where polluters got their champions to head our government and our lead environmental agencies, highlights this conundrum.
War on the EPA How Scott Pruitt went from fighting the Environmental Protection Agency to running it and rolling back years of policy. (October 11, 2017, PBS Frontline)
Dreary as it seems at the moment, it isn’t likely that the polluters will win anything but a little more time for them to make more money. Renewable energy is burying coal economically along with natural gas—which, despite its “clean” reputation, is a polluting fossil fuel also.
However, physics still trumps politics on this planet and because the accumulation of manmade greenhouse gas emissions is growing dangerously high, something will have to give. Either the voting public in the USA begins voting in folks who are on board with the prevailing science or we all cook together. There will be an accounting, aka the balance of Nature.
Climate Change doesn’t get slowed by bad politics, only less greenhouse gases in our climate system can do that. So the time that the polluters have bought themselves is being stolen from you and me—stealing our health and perhaps our future. These people ready to rob us of our opportunity to address Climate Change on a scale and timeframe that will matter will be held accountable in one way or another.
What the folks who allowed the polluters to govern seem to have forgotten is that Earth is a closed system. Inside a hot pot, everyone boils.
History tends to eventually ferret out the truth. That is to say, polluters are more likely to be held accountable as the evidence of their complicity in our dangerously warming planet becomes clearer.
San Francisco Is Suing Major Oil Companies to Protect its Citizens from Climate Change Sea level rise could lead to catastrophic flooding, and the city blames ExxonMobil and BP. (October 14, 2017, Mother Jones)
Even governments may be held accountable if the generations who wish to have a future can muster the legal power to press previous generations to the iron.
Trial Date Set for Children’s Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government The judge also agreed to let the country’s biggest fossil fuel lobbies withdraw from the case, which may shield them from having to turn over documents. (June 29, 2017, Inside Climate News)
However, there is another sense of accountability on Climate Change that might make any kind of Climate Change blame moot. If we pass tipping points that we cannot recover from, where unmanageable social unrest comes as a response to climate disruption or cascading ecosystems collapses occur, pointing fingers won’t matter.
Judgement day on Climate Change is probably not going to come in the form of an all-knowing super being assigning blame and sentencing those who thwarted our efforts to address Climate Change. It will be of little consolation to know that fossil fuel companies and bad politicians brought us to perdition, that non-place where blame has no substance.