On Human suffering
The agonies, deaths and suffering in Haiti are profound now. Over fifty thousands probably died in the earthquake. A much larger amount of people are homeless and in need of food, water and shelter. A huge amount of human misery. Without minimizing the tragedy in Haiti now, it is nothing compare to the eventual suffering of millions of future victims of global warming. But we can't see it, it is in the future, we can not feel it, nor see it on TV, so we ignore it. But the certainty of massive human suffering from global warming is very high. How high depends on our actions on GW now.
We see the pictures of the current suffering in Haiti; it is now and very real. We can identify with the suffering, it touches us. But we can not visualize, nor accept the much larger suffering global warming is certain to bring us. We do not believe GW is for real.
This is the sad case with global warming. We have a keen failure of the imagination. It is in the future, it is not a sudden sharp, singular event that can trigger our emotions now to act, to minimize it. We can do considerable amount now to reduce the likelihood of tipping points- those catastrophic events that would cause immense amount of human agony in dimensions we can not yet grasp. It is in the future and we have no human experience to compare it to or to handle it.
Just one example how future agonies from global warming would be so much larger than today's Haiti. The melting of the Himalayas glaciers. I have heard a recording of Dr. Pachuri (IPCC chair) talking with great pain about the expected drying of the main sources of water to much of India and China. Hundreds of millions of people get their water from the Himalayas glaciers, and in less than 50 years they are expected to barely provide enough water to a vastly larger population than today. What could be done for them if we do not fight GW now with all the tools at our command?
To decisively change our way of using energy and converting to a green energy sources requires imagination and courage beyond any thing we had done before.
FDR was able to prepare us for WWII because it was something we could visualize, since war was in our collective experience and the suffering in Europe was going on for years before we joined the fight. But not so with global warming. It is a slow, steady increase in damage to the global climate. However, the number of deaths, and human suffering from global warming would be many times larger than the fifty millions who perished in WWII. The immense migration of uncounted millions from GW would be so much larger than the huge population changes that resulted from WWII, or the separation of India and Pakistan after their independence.
And yet, we continue our business as usual in Congress, in our government, in our businesses, both in the US and elsewhere.
Are we so frozen in our inability, in our unwillingness to see the future that thousands of reputable scientists are warning us is coming?
Are we without any common sense?
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