17 September 2009

80 Days - Compassion by Numbers

I've been talking with my students' parents about Gardner's 8 Intelligences:
  • Linguistic intelligence ("word smart")
  • Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
  • Musical intelligence ("music smart")
  • Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
  • Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
  • Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
So, I'm trying to remember that not everyone will learn about the climate change emergency, or be able to picture it, or even be impressed by it, in the same way. I'm sure we all have the capacity for compassion, but our individual learning styles mean that it will come to us and develop in us due to different sorts of experiences and sensory inputs and other perceptions.

I've mentioned before that I don't have a "science mind." I don't even think of myself as having a math mind (though I got 100% in grade 6 math! — thank you, Mr. Welburn).

But for anyone with number/reasoning smarts, these estimated statistics from the
Global Humanitarian Forum have got to make an impression — on your heart.

ESTIMATIONS OF SUFFERING TODAY:
  • Deaths - over 300,000 per year
  • Severely Affected - over 300 million people
  • Living at Extreme Risk - 500 million people
  • Climate Displaced People - over 20 million
  • Economic Losses - over US 100 billion dollars
ESTIMATIONS OF SUFFERING TOMORROW (IN 20 YEARS TIME):
  • Deaths - approximately 500,000 per year
  • Severely Affected: approximately 650 million people
  • Climate Displaced People – more than 75 million
  • Economic Losses – over US 300 billion dollars
There's a chance these figures are too conservative. What if these estimations weren't based on Arctic carbon feedbacks ramping up once the summer sea ice in the north disappears, taking with it the Northern Hemisphere's summer air conditioning, upon which our agriculture depends? What if they didn't consider the methane time bomb setting off runaway global warming?

Even if these estimations are overinflated, off by an order of magnitude, the numbers are still scary.

Unless you have no heart.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?