Business as Usual; The Dead Horse and Juggernaut of Climate Change

Adelaide, the 11th day of 2010. We were on the tail fringe of yet another heat wave. Five days over 35o C, three days of which were over 40o C. My father worked with wood in a garage in a suburb where meteorological stations were quoting temperature high enough to begin serious denaturing of proteins.
The previous evening, my house mate complained horribly about the heat and so I suggested that he sleep on the foldout in the lounge room where he could make use of the air conditioner. Around 5:30am, my partner went into the kitchen to get a glass of water before readying herself for work. What she found was that the room, as well as the open dining and lounge area, to be incredibly cold and my house mate to be nicely rugged up under quilt.
This struck me as very typical of human nature. Before I go any further, I want to stress that I am not writing this piece to stress any great ploy for any specific change in technology – there are plenty of excellent sources already out there to do that. Nor am I writing to convince the deniers (if they have not done their research yet, I’m not going to reiterate what others far more intelligent on such topics have already provided). I am writing merely as a call out to commonsense!
From what I’ve read thus far from the deniers’ camp on human induced climate change, it seems to me that their approach is very similar to that of the laughable televangelist groups behind such ventures as the Answers in Genesis website and the Creation Museum. They either start with their expected result and find “evidence” that fits or do their best to discredit scientists who are working hard to explain current events and develop models that provide some realistic prediction, based on objective science.
Sure, they have made mistakes – and under peer-review and continuous research ideas are refined and made more reliable. Just because Charles Darwin’s vision of natural selection is no longer the model of current evolutionary science, it doesn’t mean the idea of evolution is thrown out, nor that the world is a mere 6000yrs old, nor that Adam and Noah knew dragons or dinosaurs before “thinner air” made it easier to hunt them (show me dinosaur bones that have evidence of human hunting marks – not good science, as opposed to the excellent work so far done in geology and palaeontology to increase our understand of the history of the world).
In the case of human induced climate change, you can point to any of these little arguments over specifics or leaked emails of scientists bitching about each other, but in doing so you are, in my opinion, being as useless as most Politian’s on Question Time – bad mouthing each other and pointing the finger as though still in the school yard and not in a position to actually make changes (something that seems to be forgotten by these pollies after a few international “business trips”… but that’s another argument all together).
All that really needs to be said about all this climate change business (and as far as I’m willing to go on the actual science in this piece; if you want more – look around for it, the science articles are freely available) is this;
• CO2 is a known greenhouse gas? YES!
• Our actions as a species are leading to massive increases of CO2 and methane to be released in the atmosphere? YES!
• Photosynthesis is more dominant biological sink of this CO2? YES!
• Are we clearing massive tracks of land – especially forests which suck up the vast majority of this atmospheric carbon? YES!
• Is there any evidence of an upward trend in average global temperature since the industrial revolution? YES!
So to recap; we know our actions are leading to an increase in the atmospheric levels of a known greenhouse gas and we also know that we are clearing massive amounts of sinks for this gas and we are also seeing an average increase to global temperature? Actually, I can see why the deniers have a strong case – aha…
I bet it was the deniers too who originally brought solar activity into the argument… unfortunately its being pretty lazy of late… hmmmm… Good thing I suppose?
Anyway, as I said above, I’m not writing this piece for sake of conversion. Either they will change their minds or they won’t.
Unfortunately we won’t have cities covered in black soot this time; we won’t have acid falling from the sky, killing forests, poisoning waterways and dissolving statues and buildings; we won’t have a massive hole in the Ozone layer. This time, if we are inducing the climate change currently underway (or, for the deniers sake, at least contributing to it), it’ll be a slow change (relative to human perception) and like any juggernaut, when it hits, it’ll hit hard and will be near impossible to stop.
To take a short side step; another simple fact is that we are also depleting the fossil fuels available to us. Taking this into account; in either situation, must we wait until the island nations of the world are lost to us? Must we wait until countless species – indeed whole ecosystems that once covered incredible parts of the world – are beyond return? Must we wait for fuel shortages to bring huge cities to their knee? Must we wait until we watch our children and grandchild fight global famine, ever increasingly severe weather patterns and/or increasing energy related wars?
I don’t care on what side of the climate change fence you sit, inaction of this nature is inhumane and short-sighted. Business as Usual no longer exists as it once did. We have already over exploited the available resources and to peddle on like nothing has changed is sheer madness. It is no longer the case of whether the world is changing or not; it is changing regardless of all this verbal “hot air”. The only question is “why?” and even that pales in relation to a more pressing question; “What are we, the self-appointed custodians of the planet going to do for the greater good?”
Our dependence on fossil fuel has been both the devil’s advocate, but also rightfully the inspiration for much of the wonders of the modern technological era. Yet, the age of burning millennia of history has ended. We have left pages in our own history books with brightly coloured photographs of cities under a brown haze (which followed on from our grandparents black cities), with the reminder of the mortality associated with such airborne pollutants, with images of melting statues – indeed something that mother earth alone would’ve done, but on a much slower pace – and of (thus far) inaction to mitigate the environmental damage and/or energy shortages.
I later approached my house mate about his actions; he was highly defensive and also made the joke of how great it was to be snug under a quilt in the middle of an incredible heatwave. In one small house, there are these two people – both university graduates in the biological/environmental sector – with such conflicting views. How can change really occur when one considers the larger community – look at the joke that Copenhagen became (and this is the very world leaders apparently wanting to make such positive changes).
It now seems to me that large scale change will only occur when enough has hit the fan that comfort cannot be found in the mid-heatwave air conditioned freezer – when the furnace has cooked the last arguments of denial. As much as the prevention is better than any cure, people tend not to take a preventative measure unless it requires all most no change or effort. The cure comes about through fear – it is highly energetic and only begins when talk no longer means anything.
For me, there seems only one logical answer; learn and reduce. As there seems to be little to no response to the current situation, I will continue to reduce my resource usage (as an example, we did a simply analysis of water requirement for the production of different produce – for a 300g fillet of stake, you’re looking at around 15000L of water, 1L of milk equates to 6000L of water, a 100% cotton T-shirt maybe as much as 1000L of water etc.. you could then look at other requirement, such as feed/nutrients and CO2 emissions as others have done). I will also tempt to learn as much as I can as well as keep up to date with innovative approaches that other inspired individuals and bodies have developed and/or taken on so as I might learn how to ever more efficient with my activities. I will also move out from my current living situations and continue to voice my opposition to the current inactivity in regards to the addressed issues.
I understand that mine alone is but an insignificant measure. However, when the juggernaut hits, I want it to be known by those around me – and especially my children and theirs – that I was one individual who did not sit around bitching whether or not climate change was happening and who was responsible, I tried to mitigate my own impact and stand for the prevention. When no-one of power seems to take the charge and those around create a winter wonderland in the middle of a heatwave, the only virtue left is to oppose the path of least resistance – in this case; Business as Usual.

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