Will we wake up in time?

There are various answers to this, none of them cheerful. And there are various ways of ordering the answers. I’ve gone for random-ish.

The first, is this: we won’t wake up “in time” because it is already “too late” – unlike Hollywood films, the laws of physics apply. There’s an inertia in our systems (mental and physical, political and economic) that mean “we” have the turning circle of a supertanker, when what we need is the turning circle of a grey squirrel. We have overshot the carrying capacities for x of the 9 systems. (Rockstrom et al, 2009). Does anyone really believe, that with a growing population, increasing levels of fossil fuel extraction and decreasing sink capacity, that we are going to turn this juggernaut around? Really?

Second up (and I’m reminded by what Tonto said when the Lone Ranger peered out from the bushes they were hiding in and said “Looks like we’re surrounded by well-armed Comanches, Tonto.”)
What do you mean “we,” white man?The hope, that “we” will wake up also implies that “we” are a unitary body, waiting to be shocked from our slumber. The point is, climate disasters by and large have happened to poor people/people of colour. The whole point of money is that it gives you a buffer from most of the smaller crises and failings of “the System”. The trouble is, the hurricane, when it comes, will overwhelm those buffers, only people don’t want to think about that, and don’t quite believe it anyway… The climate disasters that have happened, and will happen in the short to medium-term (before the signal emerges from the noise) will all be passed off as down to other problems (If they hadn’t built their houses there, if they’d bothered to get out of the city when warned, if this politician hadn’t made that decision…).
There was a time when climate activists muttered darkly about Hurricane Katrina needing to hit central London or Boston before anyone would do anything. I think we’re a bit beyond that now…

Third up, we’re underestimating the power of self-delusion. The cemeteries are full of people who managed to convince themselves that the lump in their breast or testicle or wherever was a figment of their imagination/harmless, and only went to the doctor when the night pain and rapid weight loss drove them to it. The quack finds out how long they’ve had the symptoms, counts back some more weeks, does a biopsy, and has the “SPIKES” conversation with em, and says “Erm, if you’d come at the first symptoms, you’d have had a reasonable chance, but now, I’m sorry… have a leaflet about hospices…”

Finally, the very question implies the notion that if we are just AWARE of the problem, then the work of fixing it is 90% done.
But if by some miracle we did to a quick (I.e. with the clock starting from say, 2011, instead of 1988, when word first got out) firm consensus on what the problem was, then we’d still then have to agree to the “correct” solutions and then successfully implement them…
But new technologies are always buggy. They have teething problems. There are old dogs who don’t want to learn new tricks, old dogs who’ve spent a lot of money and prestige on doing it the old way, and don’t want to learn new ways.
My favourite example of this, because it relates to them cute Japanese monkeys, is the genius Imo. She figures out that dropping seeds in salt water not only cleared away the sand, but also salted the food. Did the old alpha males adopt the technique? Er, no.  They had a severe case of “not invented here” syndrome…

So, in conclusion, the time to slam on the breaks is before the bus you are in goes off the fracking cliff. Afterwards, as you are beginning your parabolic descent you can pump the pedal all you like, if it makes you feel good.  Or throw yourself out of the plane with a bedsheet and some needle and thread


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
This entry was posted in apocalypse, climate, death, fear and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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