The danger of global warming is larger than we think
I. The magnitude of the problem is immense:
Dr. Holdren said that the more elements of GW you understand: energy, oceans, climate, politics, the more depressed you would be.
I understand his point since the complexity and difficulties we would be facing trying to make real changes in our energy consumption are staggering and very difficult. We are minimizing the magnitude of this immense effort and often erroneously compare the transition to past advances in computers and electronics that went down in price with mass production, and were easily adopted by consumers. This comparison is misleading and immensely wrong. Computers and electronics are based on continues miniaturization and minor material and energy consumption.
In immense contrast the energy field is huge; the extraction, transportation, refining, and distribution of global fossil fuels are the largest industrial efforts on the globe!
And it is worse than comparing a bird to an elephant. They are both living things but one eat seeds the other chunks of forests.
The global fossil energy industry uses and transports massive amount of materials across the globe, has a market value in the order of $20 Trillion, and it will do almost anything it can to maximize its income and increase its dominance for as long as it can. Replacing cheap and highly polluting coal would be the toughest fight of all. They have been able to control Congress for many decades, as it is evident today.
Another problem is that the media, and most decision makers and their stuff, are not aware of the magnitude of the issues involved and assume that we can turn on a dime. And we are hiding the negative reality from ourselves and also from the supporting public. We are still talking as if it would be just a pain free, money and job-making opportunity.
There will be major gainers and major losers in the process. We must make sure that those who profit actually achieve critical reduction in GHG and do not do so at great cost to society. And losers should be compensated if their loss is due to public need.
II. GW impacts are hard to accept. It is beyond any previous human experience.
A. Even with all the media coverage, it is still extremely difficult to accept the full magnitude of the danger pose by GW, even for people who study and support the effort to curb GW. We look at the coming danger and reject most of it because it is depressing and we do not want to believe it. Our lives, but especially our children's and grandchildren's lives would be negatively impacted. We want to escape this reality. It is normal to use some level of denial when our wellbeing is threatened, especially when we are powerless to change the situation. This is a necessary defense to keep our sanity. It takes a lot of internal struggle to face the reality of GW.
It is also very hard to fathom the danger of GW because our vision of the world is incomplete, or even distorted. We can't grasp the immense interwoven elements of nature and how fragile the balance of nature is. GW is now destroying this delicate balance.
B. Even educated people, even many scientists, think that they have a reasonable understanding of nature. We do not. The natural world is immensely complex, interconnected, fragile, and way beyond our knowledge. We are now just scratching the surface of understanding of some elements of it. Even our ability to monitor changes is very limited compare to the needs.
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