A chilling forecast: we need to get disturbed


Strange weather we’re having. It has been all over the map this week. Saturday morning I looked outside to see hoarfrost coating everything. Weather wizards explain it forms on cool, clear, still nights when objects become supercooled by radiating heat to the atmosphere. The sky was breezy and overcast when we went to bed and when we got up, so I do not quite understand. Later, the same day brought fog and snow. Then came a warming trend with rain and more snow today.

This weather is not extreme, just odd. It would be hyperbole to attribute it to climate change.

But I’ll use it as a segwe anyway. Recently The Atlantic published 5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried. Pay particular attention to the video segment at the end featuring a lecture by writer and global warming activist David Roberts. While this exploits all our worst fears about where the world is going, everyone should at least pay attention.

As a city child transplanted to the rural shore of Lake Erie, I became a tree hugger from reading Ranger Rick magazine in the 1970s. I learned how to dig a compost pit. Throughout my school science fair career, with classmates performing superior feats of chemistry and engineering, I built geothermal energy models and a solar grow frame that derived bottom heat from manure throughout the winter. This has always mattered to me.

Somehow I still fail to get excited. To avoid going crazy most of us need to live mostly in the present and go about our work. Unfortunately too many people have averted their eyes through history and tried to get on with their lives while others committed terrible attrocities.

I have the image of most political leaders as the middling kind of father figure, too preoccupied with building a career and way of life to notice their home life falling apart. Our home is disintegrating. Roberts paints a plausible picture of a vastly different world for my children’s children. Half of the inhabitated surface of the Earth may become unlivable within 300 years. This might happen even if we take steps to stop it now. If we stay the course, the cost of averting disaster becomes progressively higher. We do not know whether this process is reversible.

We need to disturbed. Watch the video.


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