Saturday, April 17, 2010

Locally, putting global climate destabilization in context

I'm posting this largely because I just need to practice writing - I assure you, if you want to read quality climate writing and insights, NCFocus is not the place. Go spend time with Drs. Michael Tobis of In It For The Gold, Steve Easterbrook of Serendipity, and (for the firehose...) Joe Romm of Climate Progress - among others.

I was talking recently to some local progressive folks, one of whom's an environmentalist and extremely concerned about the ozone pollution here in Nevada County - and I made the point that if we don't address climate change, other causes aren't going to matter. The environmentalist violently disagreed - and indeed, to someone with asthma who ends up in the emergency room, or has to leave our county entirely in summer to escape the abysmal air quality, climate issues will seem distant and comparatively insignificant.

And this perception won't just be limited to the affected individual - we're tribal creatures and we understand our world through stories, stories of individuals from our tribe; historically we never had reason to develop a grasp of statistics, or of scales larger than a set of stories.

But if we don't make an effort to think at that larger level, we'll miss the big picture - a form of blindness which risks catastrophic consequences.

Is the ozone problem a global one?

Does it substantially affect the number of people that our world can support? (will it lead to the death of billions?)

Is it a national security threat?

Will the consequences of each further year we delay fixing the problem continue to hound us for decades or centuries?

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