Whole new (scary) ranges

Dear President Biden,

In the spirit of sticking with my pact with myself to stay “eyes wide open” about global warming, this morning I made myself read the WP article Amid Summer of Fire and Floods, A Moment of Truth for Climate Action by Sarah Kaplan and Brady Dennis.

It’s long.

And it’s depressing.

Apparently it takes a lot of words to cover such depressing stuff.

Most of that depressing stuff wasn’t especially revelatory but the authors point something out that I think we all need to read at least once a day so we can maybe get it through out thick skulls:

“But climate models are designed to predict changes in averages. What is clear now is that even a relatively modest shift in global average temperature allows for a whole new range of weather extremes.”

It’s not rocket science (which really, we need to just say NO to at this point and work out our shit here**). Really, it’s one of those observations that most of us with any science training and/or understanding of variance would realize if we were willing to focus on global warming for more than a nanosecond. But, oh my, having it so plainly stated shifts the frame dramatically.

In the WP article, Kaplan and Dennis report on the thousand-year framing that scientists are using to explain the PNW heat domes and how much more frequent these extremes are going to be (not likely to be – going to be) if the average global temperature increase surpasses 2 degrees Celsius. Basically, such dangerous climate events won’t happen every thousand or so years, they’ll happen every 5 to 10 years. Same thing goes for super-sized hurricanes and wild fires and droughts and probably tornadoes and everything else that Mother Nature conjures.

The authors also say two interesting things in the brief paragraph below, one of which is surely a mistake:

“Senate Democrats, meanwhile, earlier this month rolled out a far-reaching set of climate proposals as part of a $3.5 trillion budget deal, including measures that would allow the United States to impose a tax on nations lagging in reducing their own pollution, as well as a fee on emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.”

First, it strikes me as terribly wrong that global warming mitigation efforts are part of any “deal” – I know that’s how all this works, but it seems seriously messed up that we’re talking about the fate of the planet and of every living thing in terms of deals. WTF?

Second, I know we’re pretty dang powerful, but last time I checked, we can’t tax other nations. Maybe we can get other nations to agree to be taxed if they (we!) don’t reduce pollution sufficiently, but I think they really meant to refer to our own states, which is clearly going to go over about as well in some places as critical race theory.

**Much as I love (adore) Star Trek Next Generation, we have no business pouring billions of dollars into space travel at all, let alone as a precursor to extra-earth exploitative colonization. Not only is there vast need for those resources down here (see Gil Scott-Heron’s brilliant Whitey On The Moon), but duh, we haven’t figured out how to take care of our own planet. The whole “let’s go conquer space” deal reminds me of the throw away mentality baked into Christianity – if we play our cards right here on earth then we can go someplace way better when we die. Clearly the logic is ‘why the hell should we bother with taking care of where we are – it’s temporary?!’ We don’t even have to invoke the whole “ye shall have dominion over all the earth” deal to see how dangerous this fantasy is, but add it in and it’s not hard to see why we’re so hosed.

May we all be safe from our throw away (the earth) mentality.
May we be willing to wrap our little brains around what the shift in extremes means for us all.
May we be strong enough to let go of the whole “dominion over” attitude.
May we accept that getting back to “normal” will only hasten our collective demise.

Tracy Simpson

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