Climate Change = Climate Emergency

Posted: April 15, 2021 in Environment, History, Industrial Collapse
Tags: , , ,

This article at Scientific American argues in support of a fundamental change to its style sheet. A style sheet, for the uninitiated, is a guide to how a publication presents its output, including formatting, commonly used spellings, and preferred grammar. For instance, should ordinals (i.e., 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) be raised? Or should web be capitalized when referring to the World Wide Web? The change Scientific American just adopted is dropping the term climate change in favor of climate emergency. Well, good for Scientific American, I guess. My lack of enthusiasm or urgency — the very urgency signaled by the revised term now that the emergency is upon us (um, has been for decades already if one thinks in terms of geological or evolutionary time rather than mere decades of human history) — stems not from the truthfulness or effectiveness of the arguments but by my assessment that the problem is flatly unsolvable at this late date and that, as a global civilization, we’re doing almost nothing to combat it anyway. That’s been the case since the basic problem swung into public view in the 1970s, and it’s been the case since James Howard Kunstler published The Long Emergency in 2006.

Climate emergency deniers have claimed that recent volcanic eruptions in the Caribbean, Iceland, and Hawaii have erased or nullified all the efforts by humans to stem the release of greenhouse gases from industrial activity. According to this link, that’s comparing apples and oranges: peak volcanic activity vs. a sliver of human activity. Since 1750 (a conventional start date of the Industrial Revolution), it’s human activity driving the climate emergency, not volcanic activity. Moreover, industrial activity shows no signs of abating, at least until is all creaks to a halt when the infernal machine will no longer crank. The blocked Suez Canal and deep freeze in Texas both remind how fragile industrial infrastructure is; just wait for a Carrington Event to fry everything at once. This link explains human carbon emissions (also mentions volcanoes), which continues to increase in volume every single year. (This past year might (might!) be an anomaly due to the pandemic, but things are already ramping back up.) And besides, humans can’t control volcanoes (did someone suggest dropping nukes in them to “seal them up”?) We can’t even control ourselves.

Some while back, I purged from my blogroll all the doom links and determined that industrial civilization is in its death throes, so why bother blogging about it anymore? Similarly, the last time I cited the Doomsday Clock in January 2020, it was (metaphorically) 100 seconds to midnight. The Clock today still sits at that harrowing eve of destruction, and I didn’t link to the January 2021 statement, which includes discussions of the novel coronavirus, nuclear threats, and climate change (the older term), summarizing them together as a wake-up call. Really? So now it’s time to get serious? Nope, don’t think so. The proper time is long past due, the catastrophic future is already locked in, and we’ve been steadfastly pretending there is nothing to see (so that there will eventually be nothing to do — a self-fulfilling prophecy). It’s merely unknown when members of the human species begin dropping like flies.

  1. jknutson73 says:

    Should we all lay down, die and give up? I say no. We can keep trying to make changes even if it those changes are minimal. If humans could stop chasing the money in terms of using up natural resources, we might do better in the long run. I’m hoping there’s a future for younger generations because the alternative is too dark.

    • Brutus says:

      I know of literally no one, armed with the knowledge that each of us must die at some unspecified future date, who recommends that one should go ahead, get on with it, lay down, and die now in despair. However, if one is honest and courageous enough to admit it, developments in recent history point ineluctably to mass death, and most likely, human extinction. But who knows how long it will take? I certainly don’t. Predictions range wildly from the end of the 2020s to the end of the 21st century. Could we hypothetically and collectively do better with what time remains? Yes, of course. Realistically, I see no groundswell or great awakening to make that happen.

      • notabilia says:

        Well said, in your defense and in forceful explanation of the predicament.
        There is no “groundswell or great awakening” even possible, given the dimensions of the global reliance on fossil fuels. We cannot become a new species, nor we can we undo the centuries of industrial harm – but we can live as best we can within our social reality.

      • Brutus says:

        Thanks for your comment. I perused a few of your blog posts and was curious to find someone easily as pessimistic about the future. Several writers sound a similar note to the effect that we can’t be other than we are. I dislike that sort of determinism, as it rationalizes the shitshow as the best (or only?) of all possible worlds. I once held hope that we could have done better, but history has dashed those illusions.

  2. leavergirl says:

    If it bleeds, it leads.

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