Much as I want to see the ongoing climate change stopped and reversed, I honestly don't have hope that humanity has the ability to stop, turn around, and ease our way back from the tipping point that may already be irreversably tipping.  I personally tread a narrow knife-edge between pragmatic and idealistic.  First, I have not given up driving to work.  I may work on practices to reduce my carbon footprint, keep the heat down, not using air conditioning (fortunate to live in mild climate), drive a modest car that is not a gas guzzler, mainly eat foods that are cooked at home, garden, compost, recycle, reuse, repurpose, but still I know that my personal carbon footprint is far, far greater than the vast majority of people in other countries.  And I'm fairly motivated.  Most people are not.  

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Add to that, the US and world's political and economic systems are not motivated to bring about rapid movement toward reversing climate change.  It's not even fair to ask countries like China and India, and the African continent, not to develop in ways similar to the West.  Then there is religion, with narcissistic "god made the world for us to suck dry" mentality, and "the world is going to end anyway, for god to make the new world to come".  A billion catholics, give-or-take, all being told to reproduce like rabbits.  A billion muslims, give-or-take, who knows what they are told, but I doubt they are going cut back today's population for tomorrow's children.  A billion Chinese, with a country rapidly developing and growing, seduced into flashy comfortable fun consumer society.  A billion Indians, also headed that way.  A western culture, elite, addicted to consumer goods and amazingly wasteful commuting lifestyles.  And the great portion of humanity just doesn't agree or have the where-with-all to think about climate change.

*

So is there a choice other than hoping for the world to "listen" and "act" in ways that it doesn't appear willing to do, vs. nihilism, vs. survivalism?  Is it time to think about a "third way".  Which could be, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Climate Change".

*

Hoping for, and decrying, climate change diverts resources from finding ways to adapt to, and maybe thrive, in a changed world.  The future will belong to people and cultures and companies and countries that embrace the future, plan for the future, and devote resources to the future.  As individuals, what can we do to anticipate the changed world that may well arrive during our lifetimes, and certainly in the next generation?

*

Searching on the topic, most hits land on decrying climate change, deer-in-the-headlights "The end is near", or denying climate change, or arguing about the cause, or decrying the climate change denialists.  It's much harder to find ways that people think about learning to live in a changed world.

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I may well get slammed for suggesting this.  I am re-reading the book "1491", which describes the Americas prior to the incursion of invading people, animals, plants, philosophies, economic, political, and religious systems, and most of all, microorganisms.  Bottom line - the native peoples had no way to know, understand, or prepare for the apocalypse to come.  They were decimated, according to the author, 90 to 97% dying off in the greatest destruction of humanity in history.  The "pristine" world that explorers found, was the result of local peoples and their agricultural and social systems vanishing.  

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We have the advantage of seeing, imperfectly, the world to come.  How do we prepare our society and culture to survive and even thrive in that world?

*

I don't have answers.  I would love to see discussion on how society can realistically prepare.  Should we continue building metropolises at sea level?  Should we be working on farm crops that will do well in expected climates of the future?  How do we, if imperfectly, preserve and promote biodiversity?  What happens to the people who will be displaced from coastal areas and new deserts?  Think New Orleans / Katrina.  I don't want to see a "survivalist" mentality, so how do we prevent that and still prepare?  If there will be a changed world, what would a successful society look like?

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Oh! Dreadful thoughts!

It has the makings of a movie.....

Thanks for the article by Joe Romm. I've been wrestling with fear since reading in Global Warming's Terrifying New Math, the statement by Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, "When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees."

I already knew that a 6 degrees C rise meant the end of global civilization. Then seeing news on TV, knowing we're in the most serious agricultural failure in the US since the dust bowl, my anxiety has been through the roof. Are we already going through the tipping point, where climate destabilization permanently changes our lives? I wasn't expecting such dramatic degradation so soon. Aagh, the future is now!

One way to control anxiety is to take action. Common Cause is considering making a video connecting the dots between political corruption, the economic crisis, and climate destabilization. I've committed a substantial donation (for me) to help get this project off the ground. As far as I can see this is the most effective action I could take, to help the public make these connections. If you're interested in contributing to the video project, contact Barry Kauffman at bkauffman@commoncause.org. People won't wake up until they see the big picture, and how it's impacting their kids now. If Common Cause gets a few small contributions toward the video, it will help to get the project started faster. It would show there's support for  this message.

What an amazing discussion SB, thanks! I'll have to come back and look through all the replies later when I have time.

Same here Jedi! I love the discussion too and I'm quite behind on all the replies. I'll get caught up though.
The Washington Post, Guest Voices, 08/12/2011

"A truly strange thing has happened to American Christianity. A set of profound contradictions have developed within modern conservative Christianity, big and telling inconsistencies that have long slipped under the radar of public knowledge, and are only now beginning to be explicitly noted by critics of the religious and economic right.


"Here is what is peculiar. Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of - and many of whose followers are -- the most hard-line anti-Christian atheist/s you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin’s evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism!"

I've never perceived any conflict there. Christianity has always been about riches, and hierarchy, and therefore was the perfect predecessor to modern capitalism. In my understanding of life and myths... the "charitable" side of the Jesus myth is simply the necessary self forgiving, self aggrandising, side of an idiotic religion... in fact all religions have a "good" person who sheople pretend to follow, to make themselves look more "good". So nothing "happened" to Christianity... it has always been so.

I don't think Christianity and religion have always been about riches, I think it has been about caring, compassion, commitment. Distortions and delusions came early and people who desire control and power latched onto the fear motive to persuade the unsophisticated to follow. Hard core obedience and submission to a deity and to a land-owner, and to a male, husband, father took command of the movement. Everyone else became servant/slave and it went downhill from there. 

When I was a member of a church and listened to sermons and lectures, I had to do mental gymnastics to find women, until 1974-75, I had it up to my eyeballs and brain. Something clicked and I realized I was serving a faux deity and the men and women of my community enabled the invasion of my mind. 

The real transformation didn't occur for me until I was in China and talked to old women whose feet had been bound when they were four or five years old by their mothers and women of their family. The toes were broken, the foot bound with long cotton cloths that deformed the foot. One elderly woman was mad, no, that is not a strong enough word, she was outraged, furious and those aren't strong enough to describe her to you. My interpreter told me after leaving her hospital bedside that the old woman said it was a crime to deliberately cripple her feet, but the real crime was crippling her mind.  I later wrote about that as "Footbinding/Mindbinding". Then I knew, at the cellular level, how religion cripples our minds. 

Circumcision, as practised by our own culture, I find to be nearly as disgusting, let alone other FGM, breast ironing in Africa, victorian corsets and today's stiletto heels. But that has nothing to do with Christianity.

Other than a peculiar lone priest here or there, as in certain cases in South America's various revolutionary movements, there is simply no evidence that Christianity was ever genteel. So me thinks your youthful impressions of a genteel Christianity were most certainly an illusion, brought about by early brainwashing. Christianity has not changed. But I have no doubt that for persons who were in the past brainwashed by religions, it is certainly a difficult task to see their lies and misrepresentations.

Climate change, irreversibility, and urgency

"the urgency of acting to mitigate climate change is directly linked to the physics and biogeochemistry of the climate system. An enduring failure to achieve meaningful science-based international agreements to rapidly reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases will inevitably have serious consequences for the degree of climate change that the Earth will undergo. If the world as a whole continues to procrastinate throughout the current decade, allowing emissions to continue to increase year after year, then it will almost certainly have lost the opportunity to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Instead, our children and their descendants, and ultimately all living things, will be faced with the consequences of more severe climate disruption."
~ Richard C. J. Somerville |Bulletin of Atomic Scientists | 13 August 2012
http://richardsomerville.com.
http://climatecommunication.org.

Repeating the questions that this topic began with:

I would love to see discussion on how society can realistically prepare.  Should we continue building metropolises at sea level?  Should we be working on farm crops that will do well in expected climates of the future?  How do we, if imperfectly, preserve and promote biodiversity?  What happens to the people who will be displaced from coastal areas and new deserts?

-Reduce Homo sapien population to a ecologically sustainable 200,000.

-Change our throw-away manufacturing culture to a longevity and quality manufacturing culture.

-Ban all petroleum extraction and plastic manufacturing.

-Deride those thinking that yet more human interference with nature can somehow bring about improved ecosystemic health.

-Ensure higher education universality so that people who vote actually have a basic understanding of the ramifications of their voting choices.

-Delete corporate citizenship, and put out of business all corporate polluters who've shown consistent polluting attitudes.

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