News on the reality of climate change are pouring in. Up to 97 per cent of the world’s scientists agree that it is happening and it is caused by human activity. many agree that it is high time we heed the signs and warnings…
That some are affected (physically and economically) by various natural disasters as they powerfully ruffle our world is true, but equally true is the fact that it is easy to forget such things unless you live with the reality of their dire consequences every day.
Which, the said scientists warn, many of us earthlings will.
The two pieces of news that, once again, got me thinking, were not about the missing fish in ocean, or the acidification and warming of our oceans, or the melting of ice caps and thousand-old glaciers, or the storms that will increase in frequency and strength.
Instead, they brought forth the reality of every day life for people of places far away that have too small an impact given their simple way of life, yet ironically, they are the ones who experience climate changes first and often in irreversible ways. Yes, it is about the paradisaical small island communities where turquoise waters lap over white sands and palm trees line kilometers of beautiful beaches…
But there is a painful screech to it all. Climate change throws a rude stick in the wheels and it rattles the paradise in unthinkable ways. Climate change means starvation, loss of homes and dramatic changes of everything they define as ‘life as you know it.’
Then it was news on Mongolian nomads, many whom are forced to abandon their traditional ways due to shifting of seasons caused by climate change. Again, they don’t cause much of it but suffer the consequences in ways the majority of us cannot imagine.
After all, it’s not like we expect many feet of water to take over our dwellings, nor are we in a position to wonder whether the next (vital) crop will happen or else we face starvation. The animals we rely on for meat, dairy and others, invisible as they are, exist somewhere. For now.
On the other hand, the nomads who care for their animals see them disappear, prey to disease and hunger, and as much as we like to say we depend on ours, they are the ones in a position of utmost dependency. Hence the sad reflections of climate change on their lives.
Scientists talk about a tipping point. It has been used often enough to make some of us roll our eyes and sigh. Yet tipping points are scary as they are fascinating. In chemistry when you have a buffer solution in which you add small amounts of acid or base, the pH doesn’t change for a while. You know you’re on the way to throw the solution off balance yet you don’t know when. And then, one drop later, or two, or ten, the pH drops it rises suddenly (depending on whether you add an acid or an alkaline solution.)
That’s when you know you’re past the tipping point.
Environmentally speaking at a planetary level, tipping points are reason for nightmares of the worst kind. Because, unlike a flask of buffer solution in a lab, the planet cannot recover from that state easily.
What then? Hard to tell. What’s easier (somewhat) is to ask ‘What now?’
For sure we can do better.
Simplicity in how we live and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels. But we know that already. All we need is to start showing it.