15 August 2010

What We Don't Know Could Doom Us

How about this for a wise saying?
"If a person takes no thought about what is distant, he or she will find sorrow near at hand. He or she who will not worry about what is far off will soon find something worse than worry." — Confucius
Yup, Confucius — a very wise man (probably had a brilliant wife). Can't imagine what he was thinking about at the time, but it certainly fits today's situation — especially if by "distant" he meant Russia, China, Pakistan, Africa, the Gulf of Mexico....

Another wise man wrote something just as insightful in the comments section of a climate change blog recently:
"One of the difficulties we face is that further research is prone to discovering that things are worse than we thought, since the default assumption is that the unknown is benign." — Steve Bloom
I just spent a week updating my beloved's website (Climate Change Emergency Medical Response — send it to your doctor!) and I have been well and duly reminded that the unknown is not benign. All sorts of carbon feedbacks are kicking in — and these weren't even included in IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) projections and models!

I sense a "waking up" out there — anyone else noticed it? The denialists and skeptics seem quieter in the blogosphere ... or am I just learning to ignore them? Perhaps in the light of, ahem, reality, they finally realize that they're just blowing smoke for the sake of being contrary. (Did I ever tell you my theory that those folks were unpopular in school, which is why they're loving being in the spotlight now? So, maybe they do need some compassion after all!)

My small island community has joined the myriad "Transition Towns" around the world — and for good reason. We can't picture our island without "imported" food and energy, ferries, cars. But there's a growing recognition that when these things are disrupted or disappear, we're going to have to go back to what's been described as "a much more connected and self-sufficient community."

We have to stop picturing the future "unknown" as benign, and we most certainly have to start thinking about what is, for the moment, "distant."

And while we're trying to figure out what to do when the climate change %$#@ hits the fan in this part of the world, let's send out deep compassion and condolences to all those being so horribly devastated already.

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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?