smog, climate change

Envisioning the Cost of Climate Change

In the short story, The Falling by M.V. Melcer, a society of people exists on an intergalactic space station in search of a new planet to live on as the Earth has become uninhabitable, presumably. The space travelers, however, face a precarious situation. You see, although they are traveling in space, they’re not actually traveling very far because the gravitational pull of…I think it was a star is pulling them back to its surface. Their solution is to eject a piece of the space station every so often, reducing their weight and buying them more time. Ultimately, in order to completely free themselves from the grasp of this huge gravitational pull, they would have to lop off a significant portion of the space station, but that would mean sacrificing thousands of lives as people live on these portions of the space station. This story came to mind while listening to a podcast episode of the Hidden Brain about climate change.

Shankar Vedantam though, likens our current climate change crisis to storming Normandy during World War II and the allied forces escaping Dunkirk. Basically, the invasion of Normandy was a large effort by the allied forces to attack the German forces, which paved the way to winning World War II. Dunkirk, however, was a situation in which the allied forces were trapped by German forces and to survive, the allied forces needed a calculated retreat rather than fight. Vedantam basically says that when it comes to climate change, we are at Dunkirk, not Normandy. We cannot overcome climate change at this point; we can only make a calculated retreat.

That’s really a sobering thought. As far as we know, we cannot stop climate change. We’ve passed that point. We can only prevent its acceleration.

I don’t think this fact has fully hit the public. Even though I know about climate change, it’s difficult to truly envision how that would impact my life. It doesn’t seem real. There are those of us who are impacted by it right now, but I think the average person in most developed countries doesn’t see the effects or realize that they are experiencing the effects of climate change right now.

I think greater awareness in the general public would lead to greater systemic changes to slow the acceleration of climate change. I’m curious as to how the methods outlined in Damon Centola’s Change could help.

Going back to the short story, The Falling by M.V. Melcer, I wonder if there is some theoretical threshold or some action that we could make to free Earth from the pull of climate change. Like in the story, it may come at a great cost, but theoretically, what would that action be?

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