June 19th, 2024

Climate change likely to move quicker


By Letter to the Editor on August 18, 2021.

Editor:
Last week, the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” an assemblage of the leading experts on the subject,”all but demanded that nations band together to immediately cut emissions.” (NYTimes, Aug. 10).
What was new was their acknowledgment that we had already gone beyond the first point of no return; that permanent damage had been done; that there was no reversing similar damage in the future, even if massive corrections were made today.
Looking at it metaphorically, we have developed a chronic disease that can only get worse, not better. If we ignore treatment, it will get much worse, much faster than once thought. Two days after the panel’s announcement, a Herald poll found only 51 per cent advocating more government and industrial action on the matter, with 49 per cent opposed.
My sense of despair over our collective futures has been furthered by how we have dealt with COVID-19 over the past year, and even by conversations with family and friends this summer.
First, the COVID-19 crisis, it seems to many of us, has been a dress rehearsal for how we will take on climate change. The response to the pandemic by rich country governments has been spotty yet almost adequate; give them a C grade on this. Pfizer and other vaccine developers have done a great job of producing and ramping up distribution, although their speed in developing vaccines was built on vast mRNA scientific research, publicly funded, over the past few decades. Still, give the pharmaceutical industry an A-. The incomplete, often feeble, social, personal, and cultural responses to COVID-19 cannot be rated higher than a C-/D+ (especially when compared to the unified enthusiasm and effort to get a polio vaccine in everyone’s arm in the 1950s). So, the COVID-19 dress rehearsal suggests that if it were a play, it would close opening night.
Meanwhile, some of my family and friends believe large, speculative schemes to produce things like atmospheric shading of the sun must be pursued. Our chance to colonize Mars in the next few years might be more likely. Others believe human ingenuity and a range of business and industry solutions will provide the solution. Humans are sometimes clever but rarely wise. Long-term planning, execution, and cooperation are little known in human history, and the scale of the problem goes well beyond private enterprise solutions or government solutions alone.
None of my family and friends are climate change deniers, but I worry that we have all ignored the speed with which change will occur. More worrisome still are the other folks out there who deny climate change altogether, and even worse, those who fatalistically proclaim that we humans have had a good run, meanwhile ignoring the contingent issue of the ruination of all of nature.
We modern humans are acclimated to believe that change comes slowly if at all. History proves otherwise, taking two examples alone – the French and Russian revolutions. Things have often changed quickly in the past, and climate change is likely to do the same in the near future.
James Tagg
Lethbridge

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Southern Albertan

It may be a question of: what would it take for realization re: climate change? When it becomes reality re: the negative effects on food production? Will it be realized too late? Are we already there? Would it become more real if Alberta has another drought next year? Or when there’s not enough water for the thousands of acres of irrigated crops?

DougCameron

James: I couldn’t have said this better myself. I have said these exact things many times, too my wife. She would say; “FAR too many times!”.

Last edited 2 years ago by DougCameron
TonyPargeter

Good letter, and I share the despair that almost half of the people who read this paper and bother weighing in on the question about climate change, DESPITE this apocalyptic summer on TOP of all the other predictions made for decades happening, deny the science.
This despite the fact that the scientific method and often scientists themselves are actually quite “conservative,” fastidious and erring on the side of least drama in order to be taken seriously. What we have all learned through covid is that there’s no fixing stupid.
I find it interesting that the requirement for being taken seriously is generally to talk like a man, with sonorous tones that avoid inflection or drama (like much sports commentary; serious stuff, that)
By contrast, mercurial “Mother” Nature serves up drama like NO one else, and “hell hath no fury…..”