Climate disruption is so strongly tied into a scientific battle that humans have made it an issue of religion versus science, of economics versus mother nature, and it is a battle between humans themselves. I simply have to ask: what harm is spent in an attempt to improve the condition of the earth?
The numbers that Bill McKibben displays in the article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” are completely astounding. The change that we’ve seen as a planet, and the carbon emission “budget” alloted for by science henceforth, has space for a change of .4º celcius. This is after assessing the change of .8º currently, along with the notion that accumulation of gases, even if carbon emission halted today, would approach a difference of yet another .8º. Two full degrees is what we can withstand, according to McKibben. I don’t want to simply summarize his article, but this was information that had me halted, because of the carbon assets that are already in trade economically – five times our earthly budget.
We viewed the documentary Chasing Ice, which was more photographic than some of the information we read, but its point is pertinent nonetheless. Observing change in ice sheets and glaciers is intrinsically fascinating, but what he uncovered was vast recession and even disappearance of entire, huge areas of ice. Displaying the surface in reference to the size of Manhattan, breaking off and floating away, seems awful foreshadowing. Anthropologically, we are observing evolution – change – on earth.
Why, then, is this still treated as an environmental issue rather than something largely political that requires immediate action? Sandra Postel, in National Geographic, reflected on President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, noting that although he addressed concern about climate disruption, the proposal to utilize natural gas as a “bridge fuel” as we seek a more renewable energy cannot explain the amounts of natural gas made available through extraction technology. This is congruent with McKibben’s stance on what is economically already in trade.
Perhaps, after reading and viewing the treatment of this issue, we can find solace in what humans are already doing to keep fossil fuels underground. It seems clear that action is needed beyond the political sphere; though numbers of people working together with governmental figures and urging ethical action could be the way to slow the trade. I’m inclined to interview my anthropology professor now…