Climate Change, Survival and the Buzzkill Factor

One of our brilliant daughters, code-named M1, was surfing near Cannon Beach last week when she ran into a band of acquaintances, millennials like her, outdoors fun lovers, several with jobs at places like Nike and Intel. In other words, they were exactly the type of people we need to change the world.

Sitting around a campfire on the sand, sipping brews, M1 mentioned that the waves they had been riding were warmed by an unprecedented El Nino, the water was reaching acid levels not seen in the past 56 million years and the razor clams on nearby tidal flats were poisoned by toxins from huge algae blooms.

Oops. Silence. Buzz killer alert.

M1 took this hard. How could these people not connect the dots? The ocean ecosystem is collapsing right in front of us. How can smart young people refuse to notice?

M1’s friends were just doing what people do, living their lives, seeking joy in the moment. News of catastrophe does not mix well with a perfect day at the beach. But we need them to help change the course of history. As a species, we took off like a rocket with the industrial revolution about 250 years ago. Fueled by carbon, we gained unimaginable powers and multiplied like no other mammal. But now we need to engineer ourselves into a sustainable orbit. It’s that or crash.

To change our behavior as a species, we need to change our thinking as a species. Quickly.

In our history, no cultural transformation like this has ever happened on the time scale now required. Take monotheism, for example. For better or worse, that changed everything. The tremendous collective effort that launched crusades, built magnificent cathedrals across Europe and framed our complex civilization required a powerful organizing principle: one god. But all that took millennia to accomplish. We must start to bend the climate change curve in about a decade.

Fortunately, we have two advantages. One is good news. Scientists say that we can probably survive if we limit global warming to about 2° Centigrade. We have added 1.4° since 1880. The clock has not struck midnight. But if we build any more LNG pipelines, it’s lights out.

The other potential salvation factor is Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and their ilk. Suddenly we have tools that can spread information and ideas around the planet quickly and cheaply. We need to harness these media asap and aim them at high functioning, cognitively insulated surfers on Cannon Beach.

If you have social media skills to share in this campaign, check our underdeveloped web site at haironfireOregon.org and email info@ that address.

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