Much as I want to see the ongoing climate change stopped and reversed, I honestly don't have hope that humanity has the ability to stop, turn around, and ease our way back from the tipping point that may already be irreversably tipping. I personally tread a narrow knife-edge between pragmatic and idealistic. First, I have not given up driving to work. I may work on practices to reduce my carbon footprint, keep the heat down, not using air conditioning (fortunate to live in mild climate), drive a modest car that is not a gas guzzler, mainly eat foods that are cooked at home, garden, compost, recycle, reuse, repurpose, but still I know that my personal carbon footprint is far, far greater than the vast majority of people in other countries. And I'm fairly motivated. Most people are not.
Add to that, the US and world's political and economic systems are not motivated to bring about rapid movement toward reversing climate change. It's not even fair to ask countries like China and India, and the African continent, not to develop in ways similar to the West. Then there is religion, with narcissistic "god made the world for us to suck dry" mentality, and "the world is going to end anyway, for god to make the new world to come". A billion catholics, give-or-take, all being told to reproduce like rabbits. A billion muslims, give-or-take, who knows what they are told, but I doubt they are going cut back today's population for tomorrow's children. A billion Chinese, with a country rapidly developing and growing, seduced into flashy comfortable fun consumer society. A billion Indians, also headed that way. A western culture, elite, addicted to consumer goods and amazingly wasteful commuting lifestyles. And the great portion of humanity just doesn't agree or have the where-with-all to think about climate change.
So is there a choice other than hoping for the world to "listen" and "act" in ways that it doesn't appear willing to do, vs. nihilism, vs. survivalism? Is it time to think about a "third way". Which could be, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Climate Change".
Hoping for, and decrying, climate change diverts resources from finding ways to adapt to, and maybe thrive, in a changed world. The future will belong to people and cultures and companies and countries that embrace the future, plan for the future, and devote resources to the future. As individuals, what can we do to anticipate the changed world that may well arrive during our lifetimes, and certainly in the next generation?
Searching on the topic, most hits land on decrying climate change, deer-in-the-headlights "The end is near", or denying climate change, or arguing about the cause, or decrying the climate change denialists. It's much harder to find ways that people think about learning to live in a changed world.
I may well get slammed for suggesting this. I am re-reading the book "1491", which describes the Americas prior to the incursion of invading people, animals, plants, philosophies, economic, political, and religious systems, and most of all, microorganisms. Bottom line - the native peoples had no way to know, understand, or prepare for the apocalypse to come. They were decimated, according to the author, 90 to 97% dying off in the greatest destruction of humanity in history. The "pristine" world that explorers found, was the result of local peoples and their agricultural and social systems vanishing.
We have the advantage of seeing, imperfectly, the world to come. How do we prepare our society and culture to survive and even thrive in that world?
I don't have answers. I would love to see discussion on how society can realistically prepare. Should we continue building metropolises at sea level? Should we be working on farm crops that will do well in expected climates of the future? How do we, if imperfectly, preserve and promote biodiversity? What happens to the people who will be displaced from coastal areas and new deserts? Think New Orleans / Katrina. I don't want to see a "survivalist" mentality, so how do we prevent that and still prepare? If there will be a changed world, what would a successful society look like?
Replies are closed for this discussion.
I'm sorry Joan... but scientifically speaking, Darwin's finches did not "adapt to change". Long term non predation allowed miscellaneous mutations to survive and fill various niches. Adaptation in the sense you use it is not a evolutionary concept.
You, as a human, an individual human, can "adapt" to a changing condition, but that is not how evolution works. Your children do not inherit your "adaption". It is a common misconception among non biologists, and is always corrected by university profs in biology classes any time it is hinted at.
Nor did the Native Americans, as a an early subgroup of Homo sapiens, "adapt" to changing conditions. When Caucasians arrived in the Americas, our natives died in droves through exposure to European bacterial/viral entities, in addition to the outright killing that went on. They certainly did not "adapt", they died. The few left today, a mere fraction of original populations, survive as best they can, just like the nearly extinct Mammoth did, 5ooo years ago.
Forgive me for nagging, it's not about you personally, I just don't like seeing scientific concepts twisted askew.
Here's one example of embracing climate change, new evidence shows that rising CO2 makes rice hybridize with weedy wild rice, reducing yield and quality. So scientists hope to figure out what's going on and incorporate the new knowledge into breeding adaptive rice varieties.
Of course, current trends just increase the short term threat of climate destabilization to rice production, and developing an adaptation is just hope.
Ruth thanks for linking to that article. It was interesting. I'm curious about why there is weed rice in the US - all rice here is imported. If I remember correctly (maybe not) North American wild rice isn't actually rice. I'll have to look that up. I'm not sure i trust the scientists in this process - from the sounds of it, half of the rice in the US is already genetically modified, so this could result in the rest of it being GMO rice as well. Still, it's an attempt to give future generations a way to cope, if imperfectly, with the climate mess that we are leaving them. Après moi, le déluge so we should at least give them so galoshes.
Yes, adaptation development is "just hope". But that is the difference between critical thinking and dogmatic thinking. A person who sees a problem and then starts exploring, experimenting, testing, asking, has a higher probability of finding a solution than one who submits to obedience to dogma and doesn't even ask questions. Such a thinker lives in the answer and if the answer is from the Bronze Age, there is a higher probability he/she will fail to find a solution.
Here's an article that fits the title of this discussion. I don't like the articles perspective. Climate Scientists don't/didn't downplay the climate threat, journalist do/did by including counter arguments in their articles from the few anti-climate change sources they manage to dig up. "This reporter," Bill Blakemore must have finally gotten understood that climate change is real and it's effects are catastrophic. The following article is a opinion piece based on Bill Blakemore's article ( great piece ) that Ruth posted.
Journalist Bill Blakemore has a great piece on ABC’s website:
‘Hug the Monster’ for Realistic Hope in Global Warming (or How to Transform Your Fearful Inner Climate).
He offers advice to journalists in covering climate change — and advice to the rest of us in a world captured by denial.
The piece helps dispel the myth that climate scientists have long been overhyping climate impacts — when everyone who actually follows climate science and talks to any significant number of climate scientists knows that the reverse is true. As Blakemore writes:
Established scientists, community and government leaders and journalists, as they describe the disruptions, suffering and destruction that manmade global warming is already producing, with far worse in the offing if humanity doesn’t somehow control it, are starting to allow themselves publicly to use terms like “calamity,” “catastrophe”, and “risk to the collective civilization”….
A few years ago, this reporter heard a prominent climate and environment scientist speaking at a large but off-the-record conference of experts and policy makers from around the world who had gathered at Harvard University’s Kennedy School….
He told us that he and most other climate scientists often simply didn’t want to speak openly about what they were learning about how disruptive and frightening the changes of manmade global warming were clearly going to be for “fear of paralyzing the public.”
That speaker now has an influential job in the Obama administration.
Climate scientists have been consistently downplaying and underestimating the risks for three main reasons. First, their models tended to ignore the myriad amplifying carbon cycle feedbacks that we now know are kicking in (such as the defrosting tundra).
Chris, thanks for linking to and commenting on the article. It at least states that the climate of the planet earth is headed in a direction that will make life a far different experience than in the past.
I guess my point of view is that so few people will make changes, that climate change is inevitable. I honestly do not have faith in the ability of collective humanity to turn the process around. I do not doubt at all it will happen. It's like rumblings before a major war that no one seems to want but everyone seems to be causing.
I would like to rename the somewhat benign sounding "climate change" to something more representative of what we are heading for. Maybe not something too scary scary (counterproductive even if true), but equally descriptive - ie, not "planetary Armageddon", but maybe, "Planetary climate metamorphosis" or "Earth 2.0" or something.
One of the main principals of Reaganomics was deregulation. Deregulation led to Climate Change. Reagan used to say a rising tide raises all the boats. He should have said rising tides flood neighborhoods. Reganomics might be a good name for the problems we face.
I like that way of stating it, the "rising tide floods neighborhoods". "Manhattan, Venice of the Northeast". "Miami, Atlantis 2.0". What a disaster.
For some reason this got me thinking about car sharing, or automobile cooperatives. Earlier in the year I read an article claiming that high school, and collage students are postponing getting their drivers license because the initial start-up costs are too high with the purchase of the automobile, smog, insurance, parking, repairs and maintenance . I've seen companies offering automobile ride-sharing contracts. I wonder how those contracts are set up and how difficult it would be to set one up for a group of people. It seems like it could work well in apartments.
That would be good. I know there are car sharing groups. I tried to get moved to an office where I could bike to work, then my employer closed it down and moved me 12 miles away. No direct mass transit route there, so I drive. My hours are erratic and no way to plan around sharing, there can be an hour or 2 difference every day. Bummer.
Maybe they'll have sky-bridges connecting the towers, and the street/canal-level people will be floating around on old car seats and barges made from dumpsters, a lower caste-society never in touch with the elite skyscraper people. A not-so-lovely future.