Climate Change unimaginably complex
SOME THOUGHT ON “ANOTHER STORM IS COMING” - NY TIMES SUNDAY REVIEW 10/9/16
(A direct hit on the Gulf Coast oil industry would be an environmental disaster)
Perhaps climate change understanding (and climate improvements) must be thought of as being the grist for Big Data and AI applications, if we have or can collect the data.
“Climate change is hard to think about not only because it’s complex and politically contentious, not only because it’s cognitively almost impossible to keep in mind the intricate relationships that tie together an oil well in Venezuela, Siberian permafrost, Saudi F-15s bombing a Yemeni wedding, subsidence along the Jersey Shore, albedo effect near Kangerlussuaq, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the polar vortex, shampoo, California cattle, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, leukemia, plastic, paper, the Sixth Extinction, Zika, and the basic decisions we make every day, are forced to make every day, in a world we didn’t choose but were thrown into.”
The political and social problems that must be overcome are even more severe. This is perhaps why some say there must be a catastrophic event arriving or on the near horizon to force planetary cooperation.
"No, it’s not just because it’s mind-bendingly difficult to connect the dots. Climate change is hard to think about because it’s depressing and scary. Thinking seriously about climate change forces us to face the fact that nobody’s driving the car, nobody’s in charge, nobody knows how to “fix it.” And even if we had a driver, there’s a bigger problem: no car. There’s no mechanism for uniting the entire human species to move together in one direction.
There are more than seven billion humans, and we divide into almost 200 countries, thousands of smaller sub-national states, territories, counties and municipalities, and an unimaginable multitude of corporations, community organizations, neighborhoods, religious sects, ethnic identities, clans, tribes, gangs, clubs and families, each of which faces its own disunion and strife, all the way down to the individual human soul in conflict with itself, torn between fear and desire, hard sacrifice and easy cruelty, all of us improvising day by day, moment to moment, making decisions based on best guesses, hunches, comforting illusions and too little data."
First, beautifully said, even if it is scary. I agree with all the threads you have woven together but I slightly disagree with there is no one driving the car. I think it is the western consumer economy. Yes, one that we did not consciously create together but all participate in. We love the conveniences. But changing one little habit at a time, like becoming vegan and eliminating meat, cows primarily, can be huge when addressing climate change. If we are but a little interested in saving our own behinds, as well as that of our family and friends, not to mention the Earth, the hand that feeds us, we may have a chance. If we can sell people on that idea alone, we may have a chance.
I came upon the mindset of changing things in my lifestyle to help the planet by way of one small class: Environmental Sociology. It changed everything for me. That was in 2009. I am still challenging myself to change my lifestyle. It is not so painful to go without paper towels, meat, dairy, bottled water, grow food, do without a/c, wear more layers in winter to turn down the heat, etc. It is just a new habit. If we can just come together, and I think people are starved for coming together because most of the people in the U.S. are lost. I found activism in a peace and justice group in my town, support Black Lives Matter, and spend most of my time in environmental activism. Those things have brought me the most happiness.
Let us educate. Let us do it swiftly. And have hope and love.
S. Hopkins - True, true. Sometimes the complexity of climate science is a challenge to convey as well. And yet, we already have examples of countries which have made great strides. The U.S. seems particularly behind the times, and insulated from realities the rest of the world faces daily.
I hold out great hope that alternative technologies will continue to develop to the point of being super-efficient, and easily affordable or even easy to do-it-yourself. Because, if you could charge your electric car with the solar panels on your roof, wouldn’t you choose that over paying at the gas pump every week?
I see a day when everyone will have within easy reach – a makerspace or community development office which holds regular workshops where people build their own solar panels, gravity lights, and who knows what else may be coming that will help us change our ways.
The “mechanism for uniting the entire human species” is education, communication – saturation of Climate Truth into the consciousness of the world. This has the potential to be achieved, which would have been unimaginable before the internet.
I also know “the hundredth monkey” phenomena – there is something that unites human consciousness, beyond our current ways of knowing. The climate mobilization is really powerful because it is activating those of us willing to be the first 100 monkeys. We all understand that climate is an emergency, we are acting on that knowledge daily, we are communicating it, thinking about it, strategizing about it…and that’s when the critical mass is reached, and like the hundredth monkey – once it learned how to use the new tool – the entire other island of monkeys – unconnected to the first – suddenly had the knowledge and began using the tool as well.
We can do this.