Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Guest Post From The Mound of Sound

In response to my last post, which dealt with climate change and the persistent drought in California, The Mound of Sound, a.k.a. The Disaffected Lib, offered some incisive commentary that I am featuring as a guest post.

Mound has been doing exemplary work on the climate file, and people looking to educate themselves on a world increasingly imperiled by climate change need look no further than his blog.

We've been warned from the outset, Lorne, of 'tipping points.' We haven't grasped the hard reality of actual points of no return beyond which we have triggered natural feedback mechanisms beyond our control, beyond reversal, that create runaway global warming.

Far more dangerous than outright deniers are those who get the reality of climate change but take a 'just not yet' approach to any effective action. It's this group, ostensibly with us, that can postpone action until the options are foreclosed and we find that we have already crossed tipping points.

Jared Diamond discusses this in "Collapse" as the process of 'rational' short-term decisions that, cumulatively, are lethal, essentially suicidal. As long as we take these decisions and actions individually in a short-term perspective they're perfectly sensible, rational. Today that is the way we prefer our problems served up to us.

And, even as we muscle our way through this climate change argument, it always comes back to the crashing reality that climate change is but one of several, potentially existential challenges that confront mankind.

Virtually every problem we face is, to some considerable extent, a function of our intellect which supports the theory that intelligent life may be self-extinguishing.

When you take the extreme weather events the world has endured over the past five years and extrapolate a somewhat worsening continuation of them over the next two to three decades where do we as a global civilization wind up?

We've experienced major crop failures in the world's breadbasket countries - Australia, Russia, America - but it's sort of like a boxer absorbing a punch. You can generally take one blow and remain on your feet. We haven't experienced a situation where these failures happen concurrently, the equivalent of a flurry of really hard punches. What then? We're not even willing to prepare for a best-possible scenario.

Welcome to Easter Island.

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