Look: Climate changes. That’s what it does.
Mountains rise and crumble, get washed away and turned into silt, and eventually end up shoving a new set of moving islands out into the ocean. Deserts and ice caps grow and sink. Ten thousand years ago, all this used to be ice, ninety years ago it was a dust bowl, and a hundred fifty years ago there were blizzards in June and no crops grew. Tomorrow, Manhattan will sink into the sea, and if we’re really lucky, so will Washington, D.C. God only knows what things will look like in twenty years, much less a hundred or a thousand.
Granted, that’s no reason not to worry about it. If I owned any real estate on Manhattan, I’d be quite concerned indeed. If the present trend lines continue, humanity is looking at a series of insanely hot summers followed by some of the most intense hurricanes and typhoons we’ve ever seen. Seems to me like a great time to move north and inland — and, eventually, a lot of people will do just that.
Considering the size of Florida’s population alone, there are an awful lot of individual people who probably ought to be very worried indeed.
But humanity is going to be just fine. In my estimation, Florida’s always been uninhabitable, New Orleans has always been sinking into the sea, Baltimore has always been a cesspit, and so on. For another example, just take Manhattan — please, take Manhattan!
There are still those who argue that all these things can’t possibly be due to human efforts; personally, I’m not all that sure we’re so ineffective. We put lead in our gasoline for fifty years and now we have the stupidest and most unengaged electorate in history; that can hardly be a coincidence.
Another, rather well-documented example is the drought in California. What happened is, lots of people moved there, and only afterward did they discover that half the state was a seasonal desert. They drained the uplands and planted some of the richest farmland in the country, only then to realize that the lakebeds they used were the entire natural water reservoir for the Los Angeles region. Today they pipe in millions of gallons from the Colorado River to water lawns clear up to Sacramento — lawns, in a desert! — and everyone complains there’s a drought. Of course there’s a drought! There’s been a drought since you turned your lakes into a damn watermelon farm and then shipped in thirty million people downstream!
So, yes, there is such a thing as manmade climate change. We’ve demonstrated our power to destroy the world in great big chunks even without using nukes for the purpose. Think that’s bad, go downstream from a gold mine someday. Talk about manmade desolation! People can break the world; get over it already.
I’m sick of people saying we’re past the point of no return. There are two reasons. First, there never has been a point where we could return. Things change; they aren’t in stasis, and pretending they ever could be is insane. Nature doesn’t exist in stasis; it’s a highly complex, even chaotic, compound system that holds only a passing similarity to anything one might consider has a form of “balance” for very brief periods. Survival of the fittest is a mechanism that is driven by harsh conditions, not easy ones.
Second, they say it like being unable to return is a bad thing. Who wants to return? A year and a half ago we didn’t have a malaria vaccine, nor any hope of one. A thousand years ago there were no giant redwoods. Ten thousand years ago, nobody had written any books, much less a sequel to “Good Omens”. I gotta say, I’m O.K. in the here and now, thanks all the same.
Well, I say that. In point of fact, I’d much rather be another hundred miles inland and a lot further north. But, hey: Malaria vaccine; am I right?
But none of that explains why it is that climate change is nothing to worry about, which was the whole point of writing all this. So I’ll explain.
The purpose of worry is similar to that of fear, or pain. They’re warnings, reminders to our brains that we ought to take some sort of action. When your hand is burning, you should move it off the hot stove; that sort of thing. If you’re afraid of hurricanes or coastal flooding, you should probably move away from the coast and make sure you’re living somewhere on rising ground with good drainage and a nice solid foundation. These are sane responses.
But worry? All worry is good for is reminding you about something you should fix later. Friends, the climate is changing; you can’t stop it. Some politicians might be able to slow it down a little by banning coal power plants or improving pipelines instead of shipping oil by truck, but even these are small-impact. Your own tiny contribution is too small to measure.
Having said that: Yes, you should reduce consumption. If you’re opposed to coal power, use less electricity; fight oil by biking to work or moving closer or taking the bus. Nudge up the thermostat a couple of degrees. Put up solar panels. Don’t buy that new cell phone or 90-inch TV screen or Range Rover unless you actually need it. Conserving energy by consuming less should be stylish, and you can help make it that way (all while saving money — neat!) Make it stylish and the whole population will consume less, and that, my friends, is real change.
But for God’s sake, don’t worry about it. Worry solves nothing. Act, or don’t: That’s your choice.
If you found this informative, feel free to support us, or buy us a coffee. We can use the morale boost — and the caffeine. Politicians, not so much: the political parties will just piss it away on more of those annoying ads that insult our intelligence. Why in the name of all that’s holy would you ever voluntarily pay for more of those?
Well, excepting Chris Sparks. Local politics is good politics, and unlike the rest of them, he actually is one of us.