Climate of Change Over Changing Climate: Ethics and Complacency
Last Friday, on a whim, I created an open thread called Winds of Change, Comfortably Numb. Like the song from the video, the winds of change are blowing -- quite literally, too: the climate is changing, in social & political ways as well as ecological terms.1
The future's in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change
New studies were published over the weekend that serve to reinforce some previous data about the issue of global climate change. In his piece Warming and Storms, Uncertainty and Ethics, Andrew C. Revkin writes about how those studies may impact our approach to human-induced global warming:
Over the weekend, a pair of very different climate studies — one physical, one social — illustrated two uncomfortable, and related, realities confronting society as it grapples with possible responses to human-driven global warming.
Revkin is right: both studies, particularly when combined, leave us with some disturbing things to mull over.
While the first study, published in Natural Geoscience, appears to supplement research that points to a link between rising global temperatures and increases in hurricane size, strength and frequency. This, of course, means that we need even more studies to help further our understanding, as our grasp as yet is tentative at best.
The second study which caught Revkin's attention was a post on ClimateEthics.org that argued "another uncomfortable reality: Complacency is not an ethical response to the persistent uncertainty clouding forecasts of harmful impacts from the continuing buildup of human-generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
Indeed, the second paper was supplemented by the author -- Donald A. Brown -- through a comment to the Revkin article that makes, in one succinct summarizing sentence, a brilliant and (imo) inescapable statement. Namely,
Ethics Demands that High Emitting Nations Both Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Face of Scientific Uncertainty and to Pay for the Climate Change Damages.
That pesky little thing that influences and affects the smooth functioning of any truly advanced, truly civilized society. I've previously touched upon2 the somewhat twisted manner in which "civilization" defines itself from time to time. sometimes, the delusions we build for excusing our behaviours and actions -- or lack thereof -- are not only far-reaching but deadly.
I strongly recommend reading Revkin's article, the two studies he cites, and the comment by Professor Brown. Now is the time when we need to instill, in ourselves, an immutable sense of ethical responsibility to be the impetus of change within our world.
The time is now, and the opportunity is knocking at our door upon the winds of change and fortune.
The wind of change
Blows straight into the face of time
Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind
We read, day after day and week after week, about how this current Adminstration has politicized not only all branches of the federal government and judiciary, but also how it has -- with the help of Congressional cronies and big-money lobbies -- forced changes and deleted information in scientific findings that would impact not only our climate policy and our scientific research into energy and the enervironment but also help us take effective steps and measures toward the creation of a cleaner, more economic and ecologically friendly world.
Meanwhile, the studies that we are seeing by qualified scientists tell us that the impact we are having and the influence on the world ecology is changing at a rate faster than previously understood.
If the duty to put the callous disregard aside does not fall to us, then who?
If not now, then when?
"The nature of the risk from climate change is enormous and using scientific uncertainty as an excuse for doing nothing is ethically intolerable,"
The words of Professor Brown should be ingrained upon the foreheads of those who repeatedly maneuver for more delay in order to duck responsibility.
It's not their world that they're keeping intact -- it's the world of our children and children's children that they're destroying.
With our help.
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change
Footnotes and References