“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science [and money] has been prostituted to this purpose.” William James
I have summarized some articles and news stories I recently read that speculate upon our ecological and environmental future. I include the links so you can explore further if so inclined.
How will communities deal with repeated inundation with larger storms and rising sea levels? In addition to rises in sea levels, most of our country will see serious to devastating drops in soil moisture. Also, global warming appears to be weakening a crucial ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream system, more officially known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Then we have the effect of impacts from multiple events such as in the past weeks- severe storms and flooding in some areas, heat, drought and wildfires in others. Melting of ice and permafrost or extinction of coral reefs will be tipping points that accelerate already rapid changes in our environment.
The Pentagon report “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States Security” is blunt. “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,” it grimly concludes.
Perhaps the least optimistic is from Chris Hedges:
The Republican Party is filled with happy climate deniers. They have adopted a response to climate change similar to that of the Virginia Legislature: ban discussion of climate change and replace the term with the less ominous “recurrent flooding.” This denial of reality—one also employed by those who assure us we can adapt—is driven by fossil fuel and agriculture industries that along with the rich and corporations fund the political campaigns of elected officials. They fear that a rational, effective response to climate change will impede profits. Our corporate media, dependent on advertising dollars, contributes to the conspiracy of silence. It ignores the patterns and effects of climate change, focusing instead on feel-good stories about heroic rescues or dramatic coverage of flooded city centers and storm refugee caravans fleeing up the coast of Florida.
We cannot make the policy changes need to avert disaster until the politicians acknowledge the problem. Instead, we are slashing the budgets of the very agencies that are vital to prepare for the devastation ahead—the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration dealing with climate change.
There are 90 coastal cities in the U.S. that endure chronic flooding, a number that is expected to double in the next two decades. National economies will go into tailspins as wider and wider parts of the globe suffer catastrophic systems breakdown. Central authority and basic services will increasingly be nonexistent. Gradually our ability to deal with these disasters will drain our nation’s wealth and resources and create swathes of territory defined by lawlessness and squalor.
Okay, I don’t want to end this here and leave you with such a downer outlook. While our current politicians seem to forget that our central consideration should be for future generations, I am finding inspiration in our young people. I recently saw Xiuhtezcatl Martinez on TV. He is a 17 yr old climate activist. I will be adding his new book to the book list. We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet. He is an articulate young man with passion and I hope he continues to be a catalyst for changes in our ecological perspectives and policies. A group of children are suing the government for violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failing to protect essential public trust resources. These kids have the agency to fight for their future and these will be the leaders when we are old and weak. They will make the changes necessary. Until then, I optimistically believe the planet’s ecosystems will have the resilience to hang on for a couple of generations.