Year 3, Month 8, Day 27: Nobody Here But Us Hippie Chickens

The Des Moines Register discusses climate change’s impact in Idaho and the nation:

Can we learn from the drought of 2012? Is this truly the “new normal” climate for which we need to plan? Let’s consider the following.

Weather is what we experience on a day-to-day basis at any location. But climate is the long-term manifestation of weather recorded over decades to centuries and longer.

One indication of decadal climate change lies in long-term trends of daily high temperature records set at weather stations throughout the world compared to the number of record daily low temperatures. In a variable climate system, there will always be new extremes experienced as the record grows longer. But the ratio of record highs to lows should average 1:1. However, on a warming planet, the number of record highs should significantly exceed the number of lows.

That’s exactly what’s occurring — the United States recorded about two new daily highs for every record low temperature in recent years. But by mid-century, climatologists project that the ratio of record highs to lows will increase to 20:1 and by the end of the century it will be 50:1.

I’m just a hippy. What do I know? Sent August 22:

For generations beyond number, humanity’s traditional cultures have offered a way for us to think in time spans longer than individual lifetimes. The emergence of our modern industrial civilization has drastically curtailed our access to this type of wisdom, and we are all the poorer for it. Nowhere is this more evident than in our ADD-driven inability to respond to the obvious and undeniable threat posed by global climate change. When corporations are unable to think beyond the next fiscal quarter, when politicians are unable to think beyond the next election, when citizens are unable to think beyond the next paycheck, and the media is unable to think beyond the 24-hour news cycle — it’s unsurprising that a slow-motion emergency of multi-generational scope receives less attention than pop star marriages and political scandals du jour.

While there are technological and cultural solutions available for many aspects of the climate crisis, these will amount to very little unless we — all of us, corporations, citizens, politicians and pundits alike — learn anew to think in the long term, developing the wisdom that comes from considering not our own happiness and prosperity, but that of our posterity.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 14: Headache.

Feeling dire today, a not-uncommon state of affairs, but one exacerbated by this report on Oxfam’s analysis of the world food system, here written up in the Independent (UK):

Millions more people across the world will be locked into a cycle of hunger and food crisis unless governments tackle a “broken” production system which is being exploited by speculators and will cause a doubling in basic foodstuff prices in the next 20 years, a leading aid agency has warned.

Research by Oxfam has highlighted a combination of factors, ranging from climate change and population growth to subsidies for biofuels and the actions of commodities traders, which will throw development in poor countries into reverse unless radical reform of the global food system is undertaken.

Radical reform? How likely is that to happen, absent 5 billion people with torches and pitchforks?

I need an Advil.

Sent May 31:

The alarms are going off everywhere. Oxfam’s prediction of doubled food prices in a few decades is based on analyses that are almost certainly too conservative. The available data on climate change are changing alarmingly fast; in every case predictions are outstripped by the horrifying realities of positive feedback loops on a planetary scale. If our world food system is falling to pieces now, just imagine what it’ll be like in twenty or thirty years, when wildly irregular weather fluctuations are wreaking continual havoc with agricultural economies all over the planet. It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s one that most of the developed world’s politicians seem determined to ignore. Short-term thinking has brought us to the brink of disaster; now is the time when our species must learn to think in the long term — not just decades, but centuries and millennia. Humanity’s survival hangs in the balance.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 10: Y3K Edition

The London Metro reports on a new study projecting climate change’s effects a thousand years in the future. Hint: it’s not pretty.

Obviously, a lot can happen between now and the year 3000, so the scary thousand-year forecasts of a team of climate scientists should not be misunderstood as constituting an inevitable future. But we must recognize that their prognostications are based on a set of best-case starting points in which the entire world community begins to act like a community, reducing CO2 emissions rapidly and responsibly. If Shawn Marshall and his team were to run the worst-case numbers, they would foretell horrifying prospects for our species and our planet. Ultimately, it’s up to us; as private citizens, we must become aware of the climate crisis’ immediacy; as civic actors, we must pressure our politicians to do the right thing for the long term, rather than bow to the inevitable exigencies of the electoral cycle. After all, why make dire predictions if all we do is wait for them to come true?

Warren Senders