"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
Recently there is a lot of debate and derision around the science of climate change. As an example, a recent article in the Times Online lists numerous studies criticizing the validity of data gathered by weather stations around the world. The point: many of the readings of these stations have been compromised by changes in context. A taste:
Some are next to air- conditioning units or are on waste treatment plants. One of the most infamous shows a weather station next to a waste incinerator…the weather station at Rome airport…catches the hot exhaust fumes emitted by taxiing jets.
For a summary of other recent controversy read “How Wrong is the IPCC?” in Mother Jones. On the other side of the debate, I regularly receive urgent email from Repower America trying to enlist me in the fight against big oil and the fight for clean energy.
Fight, fight, fight, fight, FIGHT! We are at war with…our selves. The enemy is us and we are losing.
Are we affecting the climates that have supported and sustained civilization for the last few thousand years? Absolutely. How bad is it? I don’t know and, really, neither does anyone else. Why? We are dealing with complex, open, living systems influencing and interacting with other equally complex, open, living systems. In these relationships cause becomes effect, effect turns to cause. Nothing is fixed, change is utterly non-linear and notoriously unpredictable. We might as well walk outside and try punching air. It certainly feels good…
We are simply not designed for this struggle. In trying to comprehend climate change our senses fail us. We deal in immediacy. The building of our capacity to sense the long term is a work in progress desperately in need of more funding. Logic unravels. How do we build a useful proof when “A” and “B” are both and neither? Mathematic modeling is hopelessly inadequate. How do we construct a model for life?
So, what should we do? Stick with what we’re good at, agree on what we agree on, sprinkle in a liberal dose of common sense and top it all with a big ‘ol dollop of compassion.
What are we good at? Building stuff. Constructing civilizations. Creating profoundly moving art. Telling stories. Learning and adapting.
What do we agree on? I’m betting that we all want to live somewhere beautiful. We all want stimulating, inspiring work and lives. We all want good neighbors. We all want lives of prosperity and abundance.
What is common sense? Let’s listen to our senses. Let’s keep it simple. How would a house full of auto exhaust look, smell and feel? How would a plastic fish sandwich taste? Anyone for eau de landfill? How about a chocolate pesticide milkshake? Now, how about basking in the sun on a cool day? What is the feel of a cool breeze on a warm summer day? The feel and smell of cool, moist soil? The taste of a clear mountain stream? Listen to your senses, they’ve done a pretty dang good job of keeping us alive so far…
Compassion. C’mon people, like it or not we are in this–suffering and succeeding–together. Just because we disagree does not mean we have to dismiss, disengage and disintegrate. If we are going to fight, let’s stop beating the shit out of each other and find the common passion to design and implement ways of working and living together that create and sustain life, that create and sustain that which sustains us.
Let’s get really good at it.
Just to keep the record straight this is not a feel good appeal for a world of ponies and rainbows. This is hard work, a life’s work. And, yes, the devil is definitely in the details. And, yes, we are going to disagree, lose our tempers, maybe even throw some shoes. But, let’s keep our eyes on the prize. Climate change is not the enemy. It is a symptom and a growing cause of our collective dis-ease.
Let’s use a little more common sense and let’s stick with what we’re good at and let’s generate a lot more compassion. Resistance is futile.