Thursday, July 28, 2011

My most productive month ever

For a while I was slowing down here, big time, and I thought I might even give this blog up.

I have a demanding job in a field with very little to do with climate science, and it frequently sucks away my energy for long periods of time. When I return, I am always humbled by my three great deficiencies: I am not a climate scientist and have no specialized knowledge in that area; I have no advanced mathematics beyond a year of college calculus and some statistical tools I use in my work; my computer skills are really awful (I'm not being modest; they really are. I'm at the stage of learning how to make graphs in Excel and do a simple screen capture.)

But after almost two years, I keep coming back, because this blog forces me to keep learning, because there are a lot of ideas out there that need to be boiled down to a non-specialist level and communicated in the language of common sense, and, most of all, because I want to stand up and be counted.

This is the problem of our age. Two generations ago, most of the world lived under colonial tyranny in severe poverty. One and a half generations ago, the great powers stood on the brink of nuclear war. One generation ago, one of those great powers had to be peacefully dissolved, even as the liberated nations of the Third World began to climb out of poverty, and began the long process, which continues, of liberating themselves from their homegrown tyrants.

To get here, humanity has had to surmount a number of impossible challenges. It has usually done so hesitantly, partially, and very late. Tyranny, poverty, and the threat of nuclear weapons are still with us, though less threatening than they were.

Now we face our generation's impossible challenge. The growth of our numbers and our wealth and technology have brought us to a point where we have to take the reaction of the natural world to our presence into account. Like a toddler growing up and learning he can't hit whoever he wants, the human species has got to adapt to the fact that we now have the power to permanently alter our world in a way that will make it less able to support life. Our slowness to accept this and may plan for it may bring us to a power where a halting but glorious centuries-long climb to greater wealth, safety, health and freedom slows or reverses itself. Because we have not come so far that we can conjure out of the air food to eat, protection from disease, or dry homes far from danger. We are a great and powerful species but not, as Mark Lynas would have us, the God species. Nature is still our master.

I like people; I want the best for humanity as well as the other species that share this earth. So I raise my voice, weak and reedy as it may be, for reality and against delusion, for reason and against the rationalization of ideological positions and simple greed.

I raise my voice for that. I hope you will too.

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