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Repeating the Same Failed Responses to Climate Change Illustrates Albert Einstein's Definition of Insanity

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Einstein's definition of insanity; photo by smithsonianmag; script by B. Starr
Einstein's definition of insanity; photo by smithsonianmag; script by B. Starr
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Repeating over and over actions that haven't worked and expecting a differnt outcome is a classic example of what Einstein called insanity.

Since the earliest warnings about the dangers of human-made climate change the world has gambled its destiny on a primary solution: commitments from governments and industries to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and other conservation goals before the predicted climate apocalypse. Yet this strategy has repeatedly failed.

Despite evidence that the planet is approaching points of no return, nations continue to make inadequate pledges, backtrack on them, cheat on them, and insist that jobs in polluting industries are more important than saving the planet or avoiding human extinction. They will continue to do this because of political, economic, and social pressures. And with periotic disruptions in the world's energy supply chain as in he case of Putin's illegal brutal invasion of Ukraine, you can kiss goodbye commitments to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Consider too that developing nations balk at extreme conservation. They charge that part of the wealth of industrialized countries has come from deforestation, lack of emission controls, and other planet-poisoning practices related to industrial expansion. Now that poorer nations have the opportunity to escape from poverty by continuing some of these practices they are told they must take the moral high road, which will keep them in poverty.

Many of these poorer countries are suffering the most from climate change. They are demanding compensation for the damage. And they are pleading for funding to convert to clean energy sources--funding promised but not delivered by rich nations.

It's time to recognize the charade: All efforts--including international treaties, worldwide activism, and technological innovations--have failed to halt climate change and will continue to fail. They are literally dead-end strategies. Scientists have now reached that conclusion as well. Scientists are threatening a strike as a protest against the failure of governments to mount sufficient efforts to defeat climate change. They see the futility of documenting more disasters. But they have failed to realize that they can protest and strike from now to climate-change doomsday and governments and industries will still not heed their call. But scientists are looking in the wrong direction for solutions. They should look within

Science holds the only realistic prospect for saving the planet and thus humanity. For that to happen, we must create a structure much like the Manhattan Project, which achieved the "impossible" goal of harnessing atomic power. A Climate Manhattan Project would bring together the world's top scientific experts to expedite improvements of current technologies and explore yet to be imagined solutions..

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Bernard Starr, PhD, is author of The Crucifixion of Truth, a drama set in 16th century Italy and Spain. Starr is a psychologist, journalist, and professor emeritus at CUNY, Brooklyn College. At Brooklyn College Starr taught developmental (more...)

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