How could Climate Change be a Lifeline? Because of its ability to force us into completely reinventing every element of the way we are now living.
Dr. E.O. Wilson, as I explain below, believes that we have the wherewithal to create a virtual paradise for ourselves on this planet. So why aren't we doing it?
It's because we're just now beginning to understand that climate change could be driving the near-term end of our civilization. The problem is that we've not yet begun to leverage our human ingenuity and inventiveness to replace the unsustainable way that we are currently living with a much better life for all concerned.
Case in point.
Six of the leading Democratic candidates for president
were asked a simple question
. Only two got the right answer. Here's the question:
By what year do you think the U.S. needs to cut its carbon emissions to zero?
Four out of six* mentioned 2050. Here is a brief excerpt from each of their responses:
- Michael Bloomberg. Well, if you talk 2050, that's ridiculous.
- Elizabeth Warren. 2030, because the scientists tell us we've got to do it by then.
- Andrew Yang. I've released a plan to help get our carbon emissions down to zero in the next 30 years.
By the year 2050, we should get to carbon neutral.
- Pete Buttigieg. The reality is it can't come soon enough. But with aggressive steps, we can make this happen by 2050.
- Tom Steyer. I think, in our plan, it's 2040.
*Biden and Sanders did not participate.
Kudos to Bloomberg and Warren on this question. They got the best answer, but making it actually happen by 2030 is a whole different thing.
More importantly, without a vision for a totally sustainable way of life for humans, we are in big trouble. For that, we need far more than a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
A billion animals have been killed by fires in Australia
Even with dramatic photos like this one,
the topic of climate change is buried in the back sections of most newspapers and appears as an afterthought in virtually all of the televised news. Plus, the climate change stories are so infrequent that they become stale after being posted on news sites for up to several weeks.
Case in point #2. This past Sunday, when I started writing this piece, I checked the top news stories on
The NY Times app on my iPad. All of them were less than two hours old and
none of them
were about the environment.
Then, as I do every day, I checked the Climate and Environment section of the Times. The first four stories listed were an average of four days old.
Why is that? The answer is simple. News organizations feed people the kind of stories they want to read. And most want to read about what other humans are doing - a fact that I discussed in an earlier piece a few weeks ago: Monkey See. Monkey Do. And Us.
Just like the monkeys who like to watch other monkeys, we humans like to read about what other humans are saying and doing.
So what can we do about the fact that people are not interested in hearing frequently about climate change? What topics can be covered that will catch their interest enough for them to start demanding action?
Enter Dr. Wilson. The media can start writing about a much better way of life that we're capable of creating. Only then can our descendants look back fifty years from now and be thankful that the great climate change dilemma of the 2020's finally forced us into recognizing that we're not the only species on this planet - and that we need millions of other species in order to survive.
Once we understand that, we can leverage those special attributes that Wilson says we have:
We have enough intelligence, goodwill, generosity and enterprise to turn Earth into a paradise for both ourselves and for the biosphere that gave us birth...The problem is that we are an innately dysfunctional species.
In last week's SOS Memo, I shared these images of a future lifestyle for humans that I believe could end up being that "paradise" on Earth for us humans. The first image features the envisioned HyperLook Transportation System that, when fully implemented, could replace over 80% of all automobile and domestic air travel in the United States.
I call it the "heart and soul" of the Great Big Northern GBN corridor (25 miles wide) - running about 3,000 miles from Seattle to Boston - a corridor where over 90% of Americans could eventually live comfortable, meaningful and mostly stress-free lives as compared to the constant worry, pressure, pain, hunger and/or misery that many of the world's humans are suffering now.
I call the HyperLoop the greenest part of the GBN because of what it replaces: automobile and air travel.
While the above HyperLoop system would eliminate most domestic air travel, people will still want to visit other parts of America that will no longer be accessible by 20th century transportation systems.
That's why they will enthusiastically embrace a hassle-free, TSA-Free form of travel that enables them to enjoy every minute of all their journeys - whether it's a cross-country HyperLoop trip to visit relatives or a relatively short "Flying Cruise Ship" adventure outside the GBN Corridor to visit beautiful places like Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton Mountains.
A totally sustainable way to "vacation"
Changing the narrative.
Rather than continuing to talk about how bad climate change is and what we're going to have to give up to control it - we can begin to envision and promote a superior way of life that over 80% of the world's population would welcome with open arms.
As we begin taking steps toward that vision, we must keep this question at the forefront: H
ow we can build a life for ourselves that is "green enough" to convince Mother Nature that we deserve to continue living here?
You also may want to refer your friends and family to that same page, where they might see something that helps to spark their interest, enthusiasm and action. In conclusion,
I choose to believe that we can turn the climate change monster into a spark for moving urgently toward a sustainable civilization.
As alluded to earlier, climate change could be the LifeLine "emergency" that forces us into taking drastic actions necessary to create a truly-sustainable civilization that our children and all who follow them can enjoy for millions of years.
In closing, I believe that if we can get this process started here in the USA, that the rest of the world will follow.