I am convinced that climate change will present society with the greatest challenge humanity has yet faced or may ever face.  By "society", I mean todays' society, not tomorrows.  Yes, this means us. 

I have come to this conclusion after studying this topic with as much objectively and open mindness as I could muster for over 3 years.  I've read just about every climate related book, scientific report and website that I could find ... and this includes sources that are skeptical.  The opposing arguments all fail.  They are no different than Christian Apolgetics.

Climate change is real, is happening faster than expected, and is going to be very painful, if not fatal to mankind.  When?  who knows, but does it really matter?

Disagree?  I really don't care.  Take your claim to the IPCC and NOAA and try to convince them that they are wrong about the most studied and well understood scientific topic in the history of science.  I wish you well and I hope you are successful in turning over the consensus accepted theory of man caused climate change.

So, this brings me to the moral dilema that keeps me up at night.

Now what? 

Do I keep living my conventional life with my wife, 2 teenagers and a dog? 
Do I keep driving around here and there in my fancy car, living in my much too large air conditioned house, flying to exotic vacation destinations (while I'm not in the top 1% of earners, I can see them from here) and working for a company that doesn't do squat to limit CO2 emissions, or even to monitor them? 

Do I have a responsibility to my children and to society to do what I can leave them with a climate that gives them a chance at living a decent life?

This isn't about changing lightbulbs to CFLs and buying a Prius.  It's about changing my life in just about every conceiveable way and attempting to get others to do the same.

Having come to the conclusion that I have, do I have a choice other than to do everything I can to limit the damage?

Do you have the same obligation?

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Thanks Andrea, I agree with your points, but let me ask you this:

What obligation do I have to try to convince others of the predicament that science has told us that we are in?   Wouldn't this make me almost like an evangelical christian - trying to show others "my truth" in order to save them from a hell on earth (although in this case it's a real hell, not a mythical one)?

The point is that the evangelicals really think they are saving us with their message.  I think I"m trying to save people with my message.  If I tried to spread "my message" how would I be any different than them?

Is this ultimate battle of science vs religion?

Yes, it's because they are wrong.  I suppose they think I'm wrong too, but at least I can back up my claims with actual evidence instead of a bunch of words written by a bunch of sheepherders who didn't know enough about science to keep the shit out of their food.

thanks Andy :)

Larry, I have one question for you: Is this an issue of ability or will? More specifically, are we capable of forcing a stabilization of the climate with our existing resources and technology, but simply lack the conviction to do so?


If a unified will is the only problem here, then you can gather people together to push for a solution that will guarantee future growth and prosperity for our societies. But if we lack the ability to enact a solution, then your efforts could only lead to the restriction and deconstruction of our modern society with nothing to replace it.


So I would say that as long as you campaign for a progression of society, either with a unified will for a new solution or the tolerance of our current flaws until we can learn enough to make a new solution, then you have ethical justification and (potentially) a moral obligation.


But if your campaigning is for a regression of society, either by restricting the new solution to only some peoples or by undercutting our ability to research new solutions, then you would be unethical in your campaigning. So it returns to the initial question, do we need to find the conviction for progression, or would the momentum for change instead turn toward a regression for lack of viable options? 

"Is this an issue of ability or will?"

It's an issue of will.  Yes, the evidence suggests that we can stablize climate.  It will require great changes - especially to those of us who enjoy a privileged life, as well as enourmous costs, but it is doable.

"So I would say that as long as you campaign for a progression of society, either with a unified will for a new solution or the tolerance of our current flaws until we can learn enough to make a new solution, then you have ethical justification and (potentially) a moral obligation."

thank you for this perspective. 

I think the same thing every day as I drive to work....

I do want to change my lifestyle but find it very hard to do so. It can be discouraging because like the Nerd says, we aren't lone wolves.  Regarding Drake's comment, what alternative are we offering?


This American Life did a good segment on this last weekend. It is clear that unless we educate people better, things are going to go downhill no matter what we do as individuals. Maybe education would be a place to start making progress.



Act Two. Climate Changes. People Don't.

As adults battle over how climate change should be taught in school, we try an experiment. We ask Dr Roberta Johnson, the Executive Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, who helps develop curricula on climate change, to present the best evidence there is to a high school skeptic, a freshman named Erin Gustafson. Our question: Will Erin find any of it convincing? (14 minutes)
first, thanks for the podcast link.  I listened twice. 

The kid was alright, she didn’t sound like an entirely lost cause. (Would be interesting to do an interview with her in 3 years.)  It’s not her fault but it is disappointing how science is being eroded.  Teaching both sides of the “debate” like evolution, as if there was a scientific debate about the core concept of either one?

re changing one's lifestyle, yes, it is very difficult, and made even more when a family is involved.  I feel quite trapped in my conventional life.  It's not that I don't enjoy it, as I do, but when I think of the implications of my lifestyle - all of our lifestyles, it pains me deeply. 


I keep the furnace temp low in my house,drive small car, and turn off lights when not in use. However, with countries measuring their success by how much growth they have and an ever increasing and unsustainable population increase, what good will my actions do?
A few years ago, I edited an article on geoengineering. It might relieve you to know that there ARE technologies that could combat global warming. For instance, one could actually build a factories that sucked carbon dioxide back out of the air. It's technically feasible. The only limit is cost. As doomsday approaches people will see the light and do something. In the meantime, we will have disasters like what Thailand is experiencing at the moment (catastrophic flooding). In Thailand, they believe in global warming! We are already running out of oil. A switch to alternative fuels will take place. So do your best to reduce your carbon footprint, but don't drive yourself crazy. Voluntary lifestyle changes won't get us too far. Nothing big will happen without national policies and global cooperation. In the meantime, keep preaching the truth!!!
Thank you for responding Ann.  Yes, I am familiar with the carbon extraction machines.  They look to be quite practical - once we figure out what to do with the carbon that is extracted.

There are two problems the machines won't solve - even if we turned them on tomorrow. 

One is the positive feedbacks that will occur from the warming that is already locked in.  The ice caps and glaciers will continue to melt and the forests will continue to burn.  The warming polar regions will likely release millions of tons of methane from the melted permafrost and the forests will turn from sinks to emitters. 

The second is ocean acidification - which could very well be a bigger problem than climate change.  If we screw up the bottom of the food chain all is likely to be lost.  The carbon machines will not help restore the nature PH balance of the ocean.

I'll keep doing what I can, but I have come to the conclusion that that will only help me live what is left of my life with a relatively clean conscious.  Even if we had the will to make the necessary changes to our lives, which we most certainly do not, I think we may be past the point of no return.   I suppose my children will find out. 

re "keep preaching the truth!!!"

Ironic isn't it?  Here we are "preaching the truth" of science to save people from the "hell" of climate change. 

Sounds kind of familiar doesn't it? 





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