Evolution or Revolution? The path to living with climate change


There is an old curse “may you live in interesting times”. I find myself reflecting on this more and more as we move through 2014. I find it interesting that there are still people who strongly believe that climate change is not real and everything will be just fine. Also interesting is that there are others who have told me, bluntly, that I shouldn’t worry about running out of fresh water or having clean air to breathe because “they, it, etc.” won’t let it happen.  Whatever the view or rationalization of those who deny that human kind has altered the planet, the fact remains that climate change is real and we need to do something about it!

With the recent release of the reports on the environment from the UN, we know that it is possible to mitigate the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere if we act now.   Unfortunately we, as in society as a whole, will not act now. We are still in the age where science is treated with disbelief, fear, and superstition, much as it has been throughout recorded history. One of the challenges with science, is that we tend to idolize actors, musicians, sports figures, forgetting that scientists are highly educated, dedicated, and passionate about their work. There is a great blog about this <here>. Regardless of the reasons, the groups that deny climate change are powerful and spend a lot of money denying there is a problem. So what do the rest of us do?

There are many great things happening around the world to address issues surrounding climate and the effects of climate change.   Solar and wind energy costs have reduced to the point where it’s now more cost effective to create power using the sun than with oil and other fossil fuels. Tidal generation research is yielding results and there is a grass roots awareness that something must happen. These are the evolutionary steps in the addressing climate change. The challenge with evolution is that, while effective, it is also slow and measured. Evolution, on it’s own, is not going to solve the problems we are faced with now.

Consider the following points:

1)   Globally we consume more than one and a half times what the earth is capable of producing and this number is growing. We can not sustain this level of consumption

2)   Wealth is hoarded and concentrated in a very few individuals worldwide. The income gap is growing and more and more people are being marginalized

3)   Politicians are influenced more by corporations than by individual citizens. Corporate tax rates are falling while corporate profits are increasing globally.

The question now becomes one of how will we survive this confluence of factors. Can we realistically rely on our traditional forms of government to lead the way?   How do we change the world? If there is one thing history teaches us, it’s that there is no change without massive upheaval. Globally we are at a crossroads. If we continue down the current path, we will be living with accelerating effects of climate change; floods, droughts, severe weather, shifting climate zones, dwindling fresh water reserves, to name but a few. If we act now, in a major way, we will likely see economic upheaval in the short term, but a functional and stable society in the future.

There has been a lot of talk and articles written about what needs to be done. The time to take concrete action is absolutely right now. For example 74% of respondents to a recent poll in British Columbia Canada indicated that they want the government to focus more on renewable energy and less on fossil fuels. If the government listens and takes bold steps to move away form supporting the fossil fuel industry we will see revolutionary change.

Will you make your voice heard?

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