Deal With Climate Change
We all know that animals adapt to their environment. This is not just true with long term evolution, it is true from year to year and season to season. If a watering hole dries up in Africa, a herd of wildebeests does its best to find another watering hole. If your favorite morning coffee shop goes out of business, you try to find another that is not too far from the route of your morning commute.
I was thinking about this when I wondered why we humans are having so much trouble coping with the certainty of climate change and the terrible consequences if some scenerios turn out to be true. In a sense this blog is my answer to the following question for this conference in Australia.
Despite being aware (and reminded on a frequent basis) of the difficult future we face (both as individuals and as whole, including future people) if we don’t curb our consumption, our numbers, our carbon footprints and so on, in general we tend to fall back into our old ways. This is despite the fact that the future people might include ourselves and our family and offspring. Why is this? Is it not deeply irrational? Why do we privilege the now (present selves) and discount the future (and future selves)? Of course, there has been much work conducted on impulse control, self-regulation, temporal discounting and on the identity over time of selves, but rarely are these approaches brought together in the study of the pressing problem of humanity’s future. Time is deeply entangled with the problem, and so this conference aims to bring together researchers from a diverse set of fields, all engaged in some way with our behaviour over time, our stance towards time, or the nature of time in the universe, to think of new ways of integrating knowledge both to get a better grasp on the sources of humanity’s projected problematic future, and to possibly serve up some initial strategies for resolution.
For thousands of years humans worked to tame, cultivate and conquer nature. We have been so successful we live in a world almost entirely of our own making with all-weather roads, cars, antibiotics, central heat and air conditioning, etc.
Now the problem is that we must conquer our own nature -- which is to not passively adapt to this man-made environment but instead to shape our overall man-made environment so that it is in tune with the larger natural environment of the Earth.
Mankind has made an extraordinary advance in the natural sciences and in their technical application and has established his control over nature in a way never before imagined. Men are proud of those achievements, and have a right to be. But they seem to have observed that this newly-won power over space and time, this subjugation of the forces of nature, which is the fulfilment of a longing that goes back thousands of years, has not increased the amount of pleasurable satisfaction which they may expect from life and has not made them feel happier. ...a suspicion dawns on us that...a piece of unconquerable nature may lie behind - this time a piece of our own psychical constitution. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
However, it is only with a major storm, tornado, flooding, heat wave, blizzard, drought and such that the larger natural enviornment gets our attention.
As a result most people don't bring their own cup to a coffee shop, but drink out of a disposable cup that they then discard. Bringing you own cup every day would take some time and organization. You'd have to wash it each night, remember to bring it in the morning, then remember to take out of your car and wash it etc.
Most paper cups are designed for a single use and then disposal. Very little recycled paper is used to make paper cups because of contamination concerns and regulations. Since most paper cups are coated with plastic (polyethylene), then both composting and recycling of paper cups is uncommon because of the difficulty in separating the polyethylene in the recycling process of said cups...Over 6.5 million trees were cut down to make 16 billion paper coffee cups used by U.S. in 2006, using 4 billion US gallons (15,000,000 m3) of water and resulting in 253 million pounds (115,000,000 kg) of waste. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_cup
states ramped up their speed limits as high as 85 mph.
Texas, for example, has speed limits of 75-85 mph. At 85 mph the average car is 30% less efficient. At 75 mph more than 20% less efficient.
In the US time is precious and people want to 'save time' and not 'waste time.' So spending time to use less resources, to recycle, to avoid throw-away items is not easy -- instead we are moved in the opposite direction: We are pushed to find more ways to save time.
In addition the man-made environment we live in puts pressure on us to be on time, to be focused on the task at hand -- which becomes our immediate concern. The natural environment is, for most people, far removed and even remote.
But the cost to the environment is huge.
People do not worry about global warming, for example, because their car, office, home and mall are all air conditioned.
And the consumer environment does not help either. Products are packaged for convenience, for the throw-away culture. The market place does not make it easy to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
And then there is the natural competitive nature of humans, where we want to have great car, a good house -- at least as good as our neighbors. Keeping up with the Joneses is still very much alive, as people often measure themselves and their worth against that of their neighbors.
We are asking a reasonable logical question but getting a basic survival-instinct response. We should expect nothing different. We are, after all, simply animals whose instincts evolved over millions of years and direct our behavior. Only by recognizing this will we be able to deal with the problem.
A global pattern of human arrival to previously uninhabited land masses, followed by faunal collapse and other ecological changes, appears WITHOUT KNOWN EXCEPTION. No one has contradicted or found exception to this idea. Rewilding, Ecological Surrogacy, and Now... De-extinction?: Dr. David Burney at TEDxDeExtinctionWhat this means is that the arrival of humans to new areas, areas where humans had not lived before, caused many or most of the native animals to go extinct or radically decline along with other major ecological changes. Or in other words, where ever humans migrated they caused drastic changes in the environment. But there is a second part to this. Humans, after having caused massive changes, must themselves have adjused to the new environment that they themselves created.
In other words humans changed the environment where ever they went and, I have to assume, adapted to this new environment that they changed.
To use an oversimplified example, when humans went from foraging to farming, they not only changed the environment with their farming system, they also had to adapt to the new demands that their farming put on them, such as when to plant, harvest, store, prepare tools, etc.
According to Dr. Burney this basic pattern of behavior has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years without exception. This means we have to assume this is part of human nature.
And so today we find ourselves in the same situation. We have radically changed the world's environment and now we have adjusted to the environment that we, ourselves, created. We have adjusted to our modern world of mass production but not considered the overall and larger effect on the environment of the Earth.
of the constellation Orion with optional lines and labels.
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