The Climate Time Machine

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Climate Justice Oakland March

On November 21, 2015 a couple thousand people marched on Oakland in support of the scheduled climate rally in Paris during the COP21 talks. I expected more people at the rally and started wondering how we could get more people involved.   My thoughts brought me to this:

One fascinating aspect of the “Climate Change” dialog/debate/discussion/whatever is no one really has a crystal ball.  There are so many variables when it comes to our atmosphere and our planet’s land mass we cannot know it all.  The vastness of the beautiful dance of life for life called earth is complex beyond words and knowledge.  Do changes in the Mesosphere indicate we are heading towards historically high temperatures?  Do changes with our Sun effect our climate? We have tons of data, many brilliant people working one part of the puzzle and at the end of the day no one can possibly know where change and time will take us here on earth.

So give your heart and mind a rest while our world leaders craft an agreement at COP21 in Paris.  We are going to pretend, so bear with me.  I will keep it simple because I am not one of those brilliant people researching or working on solutions for reducing carbon.  There are 2 camps:  a group of people who believe there is enough knowledge/study that leads to the conclusion to reduce carbon now – make drastic changes to our use of fossil fuels.  The other camp is skeptical of the research, they are not certain of the conclusions of the other group.  It is your classic US and THEM.

What if both groups are wrong – to a degree (black and white is for old photographs).

Time to board the Climate Time Machine.  We have set the year to 2,500.  To be exact it will be December 29, 2499. So here goes:

You are greeted by a great-great-great grand child.  You are pleased to see the sun shining when you step out of the time machine.  Your distant kin is not “sunny”.  It turns out climate did slowly change, many areas of the earth are now too hot to live.  The debate was never settled. Your grandchild is not angry about any of this…you are astonished!  She is pissed because of the chemicals we left behind; like a bad boy who does not clean his room.  She is livid with me because I did little to stop the flow of 80,000 man-made chemicals into the environment, that I did little to work on changing our model of consumption where the earth resources are for us to take. 

She looks at me and says, “Why did you not do more to change your society’s ways?”  We now spend so much of our resources cleaning water and soil.  Our oceans are just now coming back to life.  We have areas of the planet where life expectancy is under 50 years.  The few areas where there is better water and soil life expectancy is over 100.  The people on this planet remain divided with walls and security everywhere.  Your generation spent 50 years debating and made only baby steps for change. Maybe there is still time for change now...

Present Day

What wakes me at night is the future generations.  Our personal and commercial consumption model has been adopted by the rest of the world.  China and India are grappling with large scale pollution that has no upside, there is no way to justify dirty air or water.  Our current models of consumption will change, will we change fast enough to preserve a good life on this planet?  Is society working towards understanding justice for all fast enough?  Human rights and the environment have always been woven together like a fine cloth.  Thankfully, we are starting to see how interrelated human and earth rights are.   We are progressing and I am still optimistic.  It is the future generations that come to me in my dreams and I am thinking I have to do more now.