Modern human civilization is fragile — fragile to crop failures, droughts, and extreme weather. We are extremely susceptible to energy and water shortages. We don’t fully understand complex, chaotic systems like Earth’s climate. And yet, we are rapidly changing the composition of the atmosphere, even though the archeological record shows the difficulty that our ancestors had in adapting to previous rapid climate changes.
That seems suicidally reckless.
Ultimately, people believe all kinds of funny things for all kinds of funny reasons. A third of Americans believe humans and animals were created in their present form just a few thousand years ago, in spite of the overwhelming evidence for evolution. That some people believe in absurd theories like young earth creationism doesn’t change the facts, nor does it stop curious scientists from using the scientific method to learn the truth and develop technologies on the back of these insights. Similarly, climate change denialism does not change the facts of climate change.
Have you cut your energy consumption — and greenhouse gas emissions — by 40 percent in recent years? Didn’t think so. Neither have I, or many of the other seven billion people on the planet. In a draft of their final report that was leaked last week to The New York Times, scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have concluded that the world is not heeding their repeated warnings, and that mankind’s heavy use of fossil fuels — and emissions of carbon dioxide — are increasing, not declining by 25 to 40 percent, as they recommended.
Resistance remains strong. If plan A is prevent climate change through massive, collective sacrifice, let’s face it: It’s time to start working on plan B.
Percentage of Americans who believed in climate change in 2009, according to Pew. Today, 69 percent of those surveyed believe in global warming.