21 June 2009

168 Days - Message to Climate Scientists: Show Some Emotion - Please!

Great long reports of climate science research keep crossing my desk. Luckily, I have our GreenHeart Education climate science advisor sitting next to me. He reads, digests, synthesizes and then shares with me what these huge tomes have to say.

And it's always the same. Very calm language depicting the climate change emergency in words that don't depict a climate change emergency!!

Here's an example. The brand new 196-page Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States is introduced at Global Warming is Real.com with this headline: "U.S. Government Report Says Climate Change a Clear and Present Danger." But when you go to the actual report, you can't find the word "danger" — or "emergency" or "urgency" or "catastrophe." Instead, they use language like this: "Responses to the climate change challenge will almost certainly evolve over time as society learns by doing" (p. 157).

Climate change "challenge"? Like it's a game show or something?! What's with these scientists? They're human, too (right?) Aren't they afraid for their children and grandchildren? Don't they care about future generations of all species? Don't they feel any compassion for the billions of climate-change-vulnerable and the hundreds of thousands of people already impacted by the climate change crisis?

I can't help but think that what would actually help is a little bit of urgency, of panic, of fear, of scared-silliness on the part of these scientists. These are the people who know what is going to happen, and they (with a few notable exceptions) keep saying nice, calm, this-is-not-an-emergency sorts of things like "Temperature rises above 2 degrees C will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with" (p. 12). (That quote is from the Synthesis Report of the biggest climate change conference of the year, held March 2009 in Copenhagen, entitled Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges, and Decisions [pdf]).

What does it take to get thousands of scientists excited? "Difficult for contemporary societies to cope with"?! Thousands and thousands of people are already losing their lives and their livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes and their whole nations at only +0.78 degrees C of global warming! The fact is, 2 degrees C is a target for catastrophe!

Why are climate scientists not jumping up and down, yelling and screaming, standing on their heads, going on hunger strikes to get the point across — THAT WE ARE BEYOND DANGEROUS INTERFERENCE WITH THE CLIMATE SYSTEM!

Are scientists SO programmed with rationality that they can't ever let their hearts speak for them? Here's another quote from the Copenhagen conference synthesis, to make my point:

"Defining 'dangerous climate change' is ultimately a value judgement to be made by societies as a whole" (p. 12). Well, I'm society and I value life on Earth and my fellow brothers and sisters of the human species, so I'm making the value judgement: WE'RE BEYOND DANGEROUS, DUDES! Now get on with safeguarding the future.

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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?