Houston, We Have One Big Problem

Instrumental temperature record of the last 15...Image via Wikipedia…with a million interlocking solutions. That is the future ahead of us. To get to the other side, as Andrew Revkin points out, we’ll need to change how we see the story, not as a linear problem or single issue but with globally and historically comprehensive circumspection. Here’s an except from a recent presentation to Columbia University’s school of Journalism by Revkin:

Q. Obviously climate change is the biggest story on your plate right now, but looking ahead what do you see?

A. My coverage has evolved. Climate change is not the story of our time. Climate change is a subset of the story of our time, which is that we are coming of age on a finite planet and only just now recognizing that it is finite. So how we mesh infinite aspirations of a species that’s been on this explosive trajectory – not just of population growth but of consumptive appetite – how can we make a transition to a sort of stabilized and still prosperous relationship with the Earth and each other is the story of our time. Read more at Worldchanging.com

And as if to provide evidence of our leaders’ tendency to persist in monocular vision of things to come, the UN’s head of climate change issues a warning of Old School approaches to that important matter:

“POZNAN, Poland — The world must avoid a ‘cheap and dirty’ fix for the economy that could undermine the fight against global warming, the U.N.’s top climate official said on Sunday. Yvo de Boer said the world risked a second financial crisis if governments reacted to economic slowdown by building cheap, high-polluting coal-fired power plants that might then have to be scrapped as climate impacts hit. … ‘I hope that the second financial crisis is not going to have its origins in bad energy loans,’ he said. Short-sighted investments could lead to a need to build new low-carbon solar or wind power plants in 10-20 years.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Yes Houston should be noted.
    Part of the problem in our response is a refusal to recognize that the budget for programs like Houston’s NASA need to be redirected to the task of trying to keep life on this planet rather than finding signs of life on another planet. As a child of the 50’s I was in love with the Space Program as much as anyone, and the side effects of their work provided much of the break through technology of the 20th century; but now our very existence is at stake and the money, minds and equipment need to be focused elsewhere.