Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Can We Learn?

(This post continues the series of questions that I've found useful once the science of climate change begins to sink in. Click here for Questions #1 and #2 and #3.)

Climate change has a lot to teach us about how to live well and decently within the capacity of the Earth to support us. But we will only learn those lessons if we look for them, if we keep our sights not only on changing light-bulbs but also on changing ourselves and our communities.

What does climate change tell us about our economics, an economics where fossil fuel can still be cheap even when we know that greenhouse gas levels are close to the tipping point where climate change could begin to feed upon itself?

What does climate change tell us about nationalism, when there are no boundaries in the atmosphere and when the lives and livelihoods of people who’ve never owned a car are threatened by choices made by those who own several?

What does climate change tell us about happiness and security when our headlong pursuit of both have carried us beyond the climate’s ability to support us?

What does climate change tell us about our democracy, when the resistance of special interest groups is able to keep an entire country from moving forward to address the problem?

And so on.

The only thing I can think of that will make the inevitable climate change losses bearable is the possibility that through facing these losses and acknowledging our role in causing them, we may come to understand our place on the planet and learn how to live in that place.

But if we don’t stop to look for lessons in the climate crisis, if we just try to manage, accept, and adapt, we loose our chance to become wiser and stronger. We loose our chance to figure out how to fit into the rest of biosphere. Of all the important conversations to have about climate change I believe that this one - what can we learn – is the most important of all.

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