Thursday, September 11, 2014

I am looking for any and all thoughtful persons to make a case for my attending the climate march coming up in NYC. Clearly I am onboard with the message. The world needs to do more, way more, with regard to climate change. My concern is with effectiveness. If I attend, will I along with many thousands of others, be manufacturing a feel-good-moment with little or no chance of effecting significant change?

Why do I pose the question in this way? I was listening to a recent Radiolab podcast titled, In the Dust of this Planet. The topic was nihilism or pessimism, the cycles of such thought, and the way it spreads through modern culture. For those with curious minds who are not familiar with Radiolab, I urge you to tune in during your down time or as you go about the less mentally taxing of your daily activities. I guarantee you will be enriched. With that said, one of the guests made a statement that is currently bouncing in a disturbing manner around in my brain. The gentleman who made the statement is called David Victor. He is a professor of International Relations at the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Victor is also one of the authors of the definitive climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe it is safe to infer that he is uniquely qualified to comment on this topic. In the Panel’s most recent report the tone shifted from an emphasis strictly on prevention to a greater emphasis on adaptation. Which is to say, the people who know most about this topic now strongly suggest that we balance prevention efforts against doing what is needed to survive the changes they feel are inevitable. He candidly states that members of the panel bent over backwards to strike an optimistic tone when they stated that if we put in place various technologies and policies across the world, we might still avoid a two degree warming (apparently this is considered to be some important benchmark). But, in his own words, “my own opinion is that the kind of actions you’d need to do that are so heroic that we’re not going to see them on this planet”.

To be clear the United Nations Climate Change Summit, scheduled to begin on 23 September, while ambitious in its scope, in no way approaches ‘heroic’ actions.

So, the question is out there. Does it matter if I attend? If I don’t attend, what might I do that would be a more effective course of action? Keep in mind that I already try to limit my carbon footprint, recycle whenever I can, vote for candidates who support climate change action, and so on. So, my question is, what does one reasonably rationally do beyond ones immediate sphere?

Opinions are solicited but those bolstered by verifiable evidence are the most sought after.

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