Wednesday, April 29, 2020

#120 / Climate Cliff Edge Coming Soon

According to an April 15, 2020, article in The New York Times, wildlife collapse from climate change is now predicted to hit more suddenly, and sooner, than earlier thought. To quote from a subheading above the article, "scientists found a 'cliff edge' instead of the slippery slope they expected."

The study predicted that large swaths of ecosystems would falter in waves, creating sudden die-offs that would be catastrophic not only for wildlife, but for the humans who depend on it. 
“For a long time things can seem OK and then suddenly they’re not,” said Alex L. Pigot, a scientist at University College London and one of the study’s authors. “Then, it’s too late to do anything about it because you’ve already fallen over this cliff edge.” 
The latest research adds to an already bleak picture for the world’s wildlife unless urgent action is taken to preserve habitats and limit climate change. More than a million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction because of the myriad ways humans are changing the earth by farming, fishing, logging, mining, poaching and burning fossil fuels.

May I just say, "Thank you, coronavirus!" 

It can't be assumed that human beings will learn from their experience, but the abrupt arrival of the coronavirus, appearing as a global pandemic and transforming all our lives within the space of something like thirty days, should give us all just a hint about what that "cliff edge" experience can be like. 

Our response to the coronavirus crisis should also be convincing that it is actually possible to make dramatic changes to every aspect of our lives, and that we can do that in days and weeks, not just in decades. It is also true that we made just such rapid economic, social, and political changes when the United States entered World War II. Now we have two precedents to look to, and our response to the coronavirus crisis is quite recent! Hard to forget that, since those of us still alive are living right through it. World War II is getting pretty far back in our rearview mirror.

I am grateful that our current crisis teaches us that we do have the capacity to make fundamental changes, when we think our survival depends on it, and that we can do it fast!

If we learn from our experience with the coronavirus crisis, then perhaps we can start taking the dramatic actions necessary to confront the climate crisis.

Before, of course, we all go over the edge. 

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