Saturday, September 03, 2011

Those putting Climate Change into a box are gift wrapping it and sending it to the next generation


For many Climate Change is an issue where they are placing all their misconceptions, prejudices, and assumptions about the natural world and putting it into a box, a contained set of ideas that are separate from the real world. In the real world, our environment, there are facts and rules where billions of years of complexity have built up that we can hardly know. None of us can. There are too many things we have missed—the coming and going of countless creatures large and small; the exquisitely find-tuned events that have mixed our planet’s biology with our planet’s particular chemistry; and, the onslaught of man-made chemicals that have radiated into our environment without a clue as to their effect—and they will never be able to be modeled or duplicated. In other words, there is a lot about the workings of this planet’s environment where we haven’t any idea how they will affect our ability to maintain a sustainable existence.

So, our knowledge and experience of our environment cannot be put into a box. We cannot say that putting two centuries of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide, into our atmosphere won’t warm up the planet, though many are willing to take that chance, wrap up their ideology in flowery slogans and glitteringly mad ideology, and send all this stuff to our next generation who are going to have to cope with a warming planet, maybe a runaway warming planet.

There is no way anyone can be certain that the latest extreme events, like Hurricane Irene or the droughts in Texas, aren’t the harbingers of things to come as almost seven billion of us run our cars, our houses, and our dreams on fossil fuels. Yet, too many are willing to package their notions of Climate Change, an issue that has now accrued massive data and scientific interpretation, without so much as a glance at the facts and push it out the door of their consciousness.

The Climate Change Crisis cannot be put in a box. This is a complicated issue, even if you remove the mind-boggling intricacies of what turns human knowledge into human action. Just on the face of it, predicting weather say, the longer you move away from the moment where you can see tomorrow’s weather the more chaos enters into your prediction making a week’s prediction almost impossible, though in an accumulated way we can understand climate a little better. It’s like the practice of psychology. We have little ability to predict if a prisoner coming out of prison will commit another crime, no matter how many surveys we throw at the convict or how much attention we give to their possible rehabilitation. Letting someone out of prison is a crap shoot. Psychologist cannot predict human behavior on an individual basis.

Yet, on the scale of an entire population we can many times predict who the people will elect as President of the United States. We can predict with some accuracy how many folks in a grocery store will buy a case of beer in any given month—if we couldn’t we have no idea how to pack our shelves.

But Climate Change is not like anything else in our experience. There is nothing to compare with changing an entire planet’s climate. It’s an issue too big to be placed in a box where we think we can contain it. In order to tackle it were going to have to listen to the experts and find a way to quickly address it in a manner that will allow us to go on. Just gift-wrapping this calamity and sending it all to the next generation in dismissive and dissembling language wont’ do. We have to grow up quickly, do our homework, and, as a species, become adult stewards of our environment.

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