In part one of this article, we looked at the old adage, “you break it, you buy it,” placing it a modern-day context referring to what humanity has done to the planet…and ourselves. We’ve clearly broken it – badly – and “all the kings horses and all the king’s men” probably won’t be able to put it together again, even if we had the will. It’s not that many of us can’t see the apparent irreversible damage we’ve done, but that not enough people woke up before it became too late to do anything about it. Even if it isn’t too late, we’re still not doing anything about it….anything that matters, anyway. That’s what has kept it from getting fixed.
Traits ingrained in the basic human condition may be preventing people from supporting more action against climate change.
It’s much easier to kill people with missiles in a foreign country than to undertake any transition in the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. The President simply gives an order that is sent down the chain of command. The most profound dysfunction of the U.S. government has to do less with the military and “security” budgets, our system of health care, the debt ceiling, or the rate of economic growth, than with the failure to deal effectively with climate change caused by greenhouse gases. If nothing sufficient is done, the effects will become obvious only when it would be too late.
The link between rapid climate change and human extinction is basically this: the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans if the average temperature goes up by 4-6°C. It doesn’t sound like a lot because we’re used to the temperature changing 15°C overnight, but the thing that is not mentioned enough is that even a 2-3°C average increase would give us temperatures that regularly surpass 40°C (104°F) in North America and Europe, and soar even higher near the equator. Human bodies start to break down after six hours at a wet-bulb (100% humidity) temperature of 35°C (95°F). This makes the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed over 70,000 people seem like not a very big deal. Factoring in the increase we’re already seeing in heat waves, droughts, wildfires, massive storms, food and water shortages, deforestation, ocean acidification, and sea level rise some are seeing the writing on the wall: We’re all gonna die!
Don’t for a second imagine we’re headed for an era of renewable energy.
The Sixth Great Extinction: Beyond Transition, The Long Emergency, And The Great Turning, By Carolyn Baker
Climate change is real, and it is human-caused. We engender climate change in different ways—overpopulation, using fossil fuels, and above all, by consuming. Before the advent of industrial civilization, humans used to consume, for the most part, what they actually needed. Today, consuming has become an addiction. In answer to McPherson’s question, “What underlies our drive to consume?” I would answer: the profound emptiness that inhabits the psyches of human beings in the modern, industrial world. Yes, many aspects of the industrial living arrangement force us to consume, but whenever those aspects are threatened by any talk of creating different living arrangements because those arrangements are creating climate change, both the politician and the ordinary citizen begin recoiling in terror. In other words, we consume voraciously because we cannot imagine another, more satisfying way of life, and we know that if we do not maintain our consumption-saturated lifestyles, we will be forced to confront our sense of emptiness and lack of meaning.
This presentation exposes all that we are not being told about climate change and the necessity of economic collapse as the only viable means of slowing it down.
So the real trade-off, the real choice we face, is not between climate protection on one hand and economic growth on the other. It’s between planned economic contraction (with government managing the post-carbon transition through infrastructure investment and useful make-work programs) as a possible but unlikely strategy, and unplanned, unmanaged economic and environmental collapse as our default scenario.
We Are All From New Orleans Now: Climate Change, Hurricanes, And The Fate Of America's Coastal Cities, By Mike Tidwell
The presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, but climate change has decided to speak to them. And what is a thousand-mile-wide storm pushing eleven feet of water toward our country’s biggest population center saying just days before the election? It is this: we are all from New Orleans now. Climate change—through the measurable rise of sea levels and a documented increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms—has made 100 million Americans virtually as vulnerable to catastrophe as the victims of Hurricane Katrina were seven years ago.
Drawing on new data on the rate of melting arctic ice released Wednesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), leading scientific experts and environmental campaigners upped the level of alarm and issued a renewed call to action by calling the growing reality of climate change a “planetary emergency”.