Climate ‘Change’ Is Just History, But Our Climate Crisis Is Different
Earth changes happen, but our presence is more than geologic.
This time, climate “change” is not a lie
The climate changes all the time.
Climate change is real. Climate change is natural. Climate change is inevitable.
It is precisely because all these facts are true that we should definitively not call our present climate crisis, “change.”
A while back, I wrote Climate Change is a Lie for Greener Together. It was about the ho-hum innocuous name that alarms so few of us. This week, the UN has declared, that indeed, “change” is not good terminology, crisis is more accurate.
But let’s look at change from another perspective, historically.
Change is God
In her parable, Earthseed trilogy, Octavia E. Butler posits that change is GOD.
Change is what is ongoing and forever. It is real in a sense that nothing else ever is. Change happens and cannot be stopped. Change is a human, planetary, and cosmic condition. It sets the environments that drive all evolution. We are here due to climate change.
Here on Earth such change is both geologic, and affected by asteroid impacts. Especially over more than four billion years. Using the term “climate change” to describe what we see today is especially ineffective. Calling the catastrophic and immense human caused changes we see today just “change” is like calling a sinking Titanic a change in travel itinerary. It is a gross understatement.
Just like the Titanic disaster, checking hubris would make a difference. Planning lifeboat capacity would make a difference. Interventions in a timely manner would make a difference. Noting disparity between rich and poor, privilege and position, makes a difference.
Where does it go?
We burn carbon. We Homo species always have, but we were never eight billion souls before. Because our burning of fuel is somewhat invisible, it seems to vanish. However, if you link the smoke and soggy smells of our stormy world to our daily usage, the entire situation is easy to grasp.
What we put in the air, water, and soil still exists. It traps in heat, just like a blanket, or what they used to describe as a greenhouse effect.
There are people, quite a lot of them who assume that because past climate change is entirely natural, that everything we burn is “naturally” expected. As if we do not have a choice. As if Anthropocene climate change is the same as all the other climatic changes in geologic time.
It is different this time. It is a choice, not a natural change.
To deny we spew carbon is to deny we really affect reality, (but of course we do!). We can also make a difference by burning less.
Doom saying is dangerous
This week Antonio Guterres spoke about how we must make every effort to stop the fossil fuel giants and their PR tools. They are the only ones who benefit from short term profits in the big picture. We can’t just pretend a non-livable earth is our only choice.
If people are convinced that climate effects are inevitable, they learn helplessness. Suggesting we have no choices disempowers people. It is also is against the human spirit.
We are psycho-social animals. This matters.
In a crisis we feel a human need to do something. It is human nature to want to act. Pretending that we cannot act, that our little — or big leadership efforts — come to naught, is the ultimate pessimism.
The ultimate optimism, then, is taking on a planet size problem with our individual acts, but also with our collective prodigious power. We will be amazed at how necessity is the mother of invention, but also just how resilient our mother nature is as mother of invention itself.
Even the horrible war in Ukraine must be employed to affect change, or we being to deplore human nature.
In this sense, Butler is correct. Nature and change, are “God.” If you prefer, use the terms Creation and Creator. From the perspective of our linked belonging to one another, and our planet, all life is connected.
Our external and internal nature has all the answers, and all we have to do is listen, learn, and align.