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Can you “Connect the Dots”?

April 14th, 2012 · 1 Comment

While the 111010_4541_08 / climate changeCherry Blossoms peaked in Washington, DC, well before the Cherry Blossom festival peaked (and maple syrup production plummeted) while Texas experienced four-foot high ‘drifts’ of hail, while Alaska had near record snowfall while the lower 48 states broke 15,000 temperature records in March, 2015, with temperatures over 8 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than normal, while Republican presidential candidates ridiculed the concept of climate change (and a marginal group of NASA retirees and employees make noise with a deceitful letter) while the scientific consensus about climate science strengthened with ever-stronger evidentary basis, while … Are you ‘connecting the dots’?

On 5 May, 100,000s of people around the world will gather in events to help us (all of us) connect the dots in the complex interactions between our ways of life (whether direct fossil fuel use, consumption patterns, land-use, and otherwise) and the myriads of threats to the very viability of a civilized society that come from this: mounting climate chaos (that hail in Texas and blistering heat in maple syrup areas …), ocean acidification, rising seas, disrupted habitats and ecosystems, and … Sadly, as almost everyone reading this already knows, that list can go on and on and on and on and …

To be clear, humanity is already facing “catastrophic climate chaos” as per any reasonable definition of the concept in, lets say, 1970 or so. Extinction rates are already more than three orders of magnitude (>1000 times) higher than ‘background’. Agricultural systems are disrupted with heat waves (such as 2010 Russian fires), floods, and ‘wacky weather’. Nations are already moving people due to rising seas. Plants and animals habitats are moving (up mountains and north). Commerce is disrupted. Insurance bills are mounting. People are dying. And, it will get worse …

No matter what we do, the impacts from Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW — a term that anti-science syndrome sufferers like to throw around with derisiveness to seek to undermine science) will get worse as the planetary system has a built-in lag time. If humanity were to suddenly disappear overnight, climate chaos would continue to worsen for awhile to come as the planetary system (like a body fighting to recover from 1,000 cuts) recovers from the millions-of-years of accumulated carbon storage that humanity emitted into the atmosphere over a short few hundred years along.

Catastrophic climate chaos will get worse.

Our choice (if we still have one), as a species, is how much worse will it get.

Will we continue to accelerate, globally, our greenhouse gas emissions and continue land-use practices that exacerbate climate change or will we find paths to turn the tide to lessening our damage to the environment and turn to a carbon-negative economy that enables prosperity while beginning to heal the damage we’ve done?

As with any addiction and challenge, recognition and understanding are the first steps toward resolution.

On 5 May, we have an opportunity to help humanity connect the dots.

Across the planet now we see ever more flood, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked — the impacts we’re already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.

But because the globe is so big, it’s hard for most people to see that it’s all connected. That’s why, on May 5, we will Connect the Dots.

In places from drought-stricken Mongolia to flood-stricken Thailand, from fire-ravaged Australia to Himalayan communities threatened by glacial melt, we will hold rallies reminding everyone what has happened in our neighborhoods. And at each of those rallies, from Kenya to Canada, from Vietnam to Vermont, someone will be holding a…dot. A huge black dot on a white banner, a “dot” of people holding hands, encircling a field where crops have dried up, a dot made of fabric and the picture taken from above — you get the idea. We’ll share those images the world around, to put a human face on climate change–we’ll hold up a mirror to the planet and force people to come face to face with the ravages of climate change.

Will you “hold up a mirror” and help people Connect the Dots?

Of course, connecting the dots doesn’t stop at some seemingly abstract set of scientific concepts and knowledge about the interrelationship of fossil fuel emissions and ocean acidification/warming global temperatures/melting glaciers/disrupted weather patterns/etc … We need to look at the disrupted political system(s), the $10s trillions of economic issues at play with the stakeholders willing to invest $10s of billions to confuse the political system to support their short-term profits while fostering worsening near- and long-term societal risks, and the inter-linking of those resources with so many other efforts to undermine societal health in the near-, mid-, and long-term.

Truly, AGW as a scientific concern shouldn’t be partisan — of course there are arenas of dispute within science, that is science. Will the Arctic be ice free in summer before the end of the decade, in 30 years, in 8o years? There are legitimate scientific differences about such predictions (including, of course, misunderstandings that could derive from what is ‘ice free’). How fast will sea-level rise occur? Will tornadoes increase in a warming planet? While hurricanes will worsen, individually, on average, will there be more or less or roughly the same number? These are, at the end of the day, questions at the margin of the consensus as to climate science.

After we have connected the dots, to an understanding of climate science, we do actually enter a realm of legitimate political debate. Can our current economic system deal with climate chaos? Can the “market”, with some regulatory tools handle things? Does “Cap and Trade” represent a viable (and effective tool) tool to enable shifting toward more Energy Smart practices or would a Carbon Tax work better? How do handle economic and environmental justice as we seek to drive down humanity’s total carbon footprint? Etc … There are 1000s of legitimate policy debates, many without a true “right” answer, but those discussions can only have meaning if we Connect the Dots about the problems we’re creating, the challenges we face, and the opportunities that we could be seizing.

Tags: Global Warming · climate change · environmental · political symbols

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 John Crapper // Apr 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    The points made here are very insightful and stated in elequent fashion. “Islands in the sand that is what we are and we rely on each other uh uh!!” Nature will be the determinant of when we get back to living closer to its dictates. We fool ourselves if we think otherwise.

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