Reason May Not Yet Prevail, But…

There is perhaps more reason now to hope. It’s a pity it took a dope slap like superstorm Sandy to make us open our eyes and look our FrankenStorm future in the eye.

No small number of journalists, scientists, and even politicians have noticed the increasing likelihood and severity of weather catastrophes. The large insurance companies are noticing it as well. But the change that is at last taking place is that causation is being attributed to human activities over the last 200 years. And even while nobody can statistically distinguish the smoking gun for any individual event, we are all smelling the smoke.

It’s imperative that we understand the language and pace of science. We can’t not have the conversation because we don’t understand the issues. There are no excuses for that anymore. Climate chaos is here, it’s happening now, systemic causation is certain, and it’s going to get worse even if we take every possible action. But to take no action — even to neglect to bring it into the political discussions in the current day — is, as James Hansen has said, “game over.”

If you have friends or relatives who still don’t understand how the consequences of global warming impacts all of our weather now, take the time to look at at least these two articles.

From Businessweek: “An unscientific survey of the social networking literature on Sandy reveals an illuminating tweet (you read that correctly) from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (and former deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek ), offers a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.

From Alternet via Salon: [Compared to the more familiar direct causation we erroneously expect in nature–ff] “Systemic causation, because it is less obvious, is more important to understand. A systemic cause may be one of a number of multiple causes. It may require some special conditions. It may be indirect, working through a network of more direct causes. It may be probabilistic, occurring with a significantly high probability. It may require a feedback mechanism. In general, causation in ecosystems, biological systems, economic systems, and social systems tends not to be direct, but is no less causal. And because it is not direct causation, it requires all the greater attention if it is to be understood and its negative effects controlled.”

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Published by fred

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 Comment

  1. I shared the second article on Facebook. It was very clear and worthwhile. I hope I can remember to use the term “systemic change” enough to not forget it. It needs to become a common meme in our media ASAP.

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