Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Climate change: Now panic and freak out

A couple of years ago David Wallace-Wells published a piece in New York magazine called "The Uninhabitable Earth" on the impacts of climate change. Its about to become a book, and the Guardian has an excerpt. Which is as terrifying as you'd expect. The consequences of even the best-case scenario (2 degrees) are hugely disruptive. The consequences of the worse - and more likely, if we keep going the way we're going - scenarios are are even worse. Drought, famine, disease, and war are all coming, and the costs and disruption from this are going to be enormous. And as Wallace-Wells says in the accompanying interview, we should be freaking out over this - and acting on that fear:

The short answer is yes [we should freak out]. We should not sit back and feel complacent that the world beyond us will figure this out without political pressure. We cannot continue on the path we are on and believe our future will be secure and stable. We need to dramatically change our climate policy globally. That was the very clear message of the UN report. You are right that, in a certain way, it was written soberly, but it is also the case that it was saying we need mobilisation on the scale that we saw in the second world war in Europe and the US – and that is not a keep-calm message. It is saying we have to light the fuse and get going.

...to go back to the second world war analogy, we did not mobilise in that way because we were optimistic about the future. We mobilised in that way out of fear, because we thought nazism was an existential threat. And climate change is obviously an existential threat and it is naive to imagine we could respond to it without some people being scared.

"Mobilising" requires concerted government action. Which means the most important thing you can do is vote: vote for parties which take the problem seriously. Don't vote for parties which peddle bullshit and pretend life can go on unchanged. There is a huge range of outcomes between the best and worst scenarios, between hugely disruptive and uncomfortable, and absolutely apocalyptic. Our votes will determine where we end up. They'll also determine who pays: the poor, with their lives, or the rich, by giving up their excessive, polluting lifestyle. And on that front, there's really only one moral choice.

And if you want to actually apply some direct pressure, you might want to look at Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa.