Climate-change fatigue: May the end come soon
So, yesterday yet another ominous report was published:
Europe’s oceans changing at unprecedented rate
The day before we heard that:
Earth’s Coral Reefs May Be Wiped Out Entirely By The End Of The Century
A few days before we were told that:
Arctic ice set to match all-time record low – Satellite measurements reveal that volumes have fallen consistently over past 30 years
And the week before:
Scientist left speechless as vast glacier turns to water
These articles were all published within the last two weeks – but it’s not as if they are new news.
For several years there have been numerous reports predicting the scenario ahead:
- sea-level rise affecting coastal communities;
- ocean acidification destroying coral reefs as well as numerous other species that we depend upon for food;
- accelerated melting of glaciers and ice caps;
- extreme weather events – flooding, tornadoes, droughts, heat waves – many of which are likely attributable to climate change;
- and more…
And then of course there was that letter written nearly 20 years ago, addressed to humanity and signed by 1700 of the world’s top scientists, warning us that “If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.”
We have all this knowledge, and we’ve had it for some time now. Those warnings of nearly two decades ago are coming true – with many of the predicted changes startling the scientists, because they are happening even more quickly than had been foreseen.
But what I don’t get is how we can hear all this, yet not take action. I have talked to several of my friends about it: they know how concerned I am about the future of our planet, and for all life on the planet. (Obviously, the planet itself will be fine, continuing to hurtle through space with or without us. It is our knowing destruction of the lives upon it, including our own, that disturbs me).
And a lot of what I get back from people is that they don’t like to think about such unpleasant things.
Well, as Noam Chomsky wrote last week, “The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat.” (Chomsky stated this in a different context, writing on a different subject – but the quote applies equally well here).
Pretending that these grave changes to our planet are not happening: going on with our daily “normal” lives; looking on the bright side; and choosing not to think about climate change and what we need to do about it (or, more precisely, what we should have done about it a few decades ago) is not going to make it go away.
I can’t help but be the kind of person who wants to be informed about things. As I have written here before, sometimes I wish I didn’t know the things I know. But I think it is my responsibility to know. And I also think that, if I see something bad that is going to happen, that I can prevent, it is my duty to take action to prevent that thing. For there is no point in having the knowledge if you are not going to use it. We have a responsibility to take action. (Even more so, if you have kids who you claim to love).
But really, I am just tired of it all now. We have set our path. Climate scientists know what is coming, and how the momentum of our society (still, even today, pushing for economic growth as if it will be the saviour of all things!) is probably too great to change now. It’s already happening – and there is a part of me that just wants the rest to come quickly, get it over with, so I can stop reading about it.
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
Rush, from their song “Freewill”