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Shifting Baselines

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This is a very good read....https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/7/7/21311027/covid-19-climate-change-global-warming-shifting-baselines

Scary too. I have been wondering if Covid19 has sidetracked the focus away from global warming (which many are not concerned about...no big deal....we got time..). The 2 are connected in my opinion. With the virus threatening and changing our lives in a major way,  will we shift our attention too far to Covid and away from what will end all life?

This article is about how we are not aware of what Normal in our natural environment is. When the first settlers came to Maryland, they saw herds of wild turkeys, a Chesapeake Bay loaded to the brim with fish, total abundance. And if you were Tarzan at that time then you could swing from tree to tree completely across the State. Now, the odds of him being able dodge getting shot in Baltimore, swim across the Inner Harbor and run across 695 are not favorable.

I digress. It's a good article.

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The scariest thing about global warming (and Covid-19)

“Shifting baselines syndrome” means we could quickly get used to climate chaos.

For as long as I’ve followed global warming, advocates and activists have shared a certain faith: When the impacts get really bad, people will act.

Maybe it will be an especially destructive hurricane, heat wave, or flood. Maybe it will be multiple disasters at once. But at some point, the severity of the problem will become self-evident, sweeping away any remaining doubt or hesitation and prompting a wave of action.

From this perspective, the scary possibility is that the moment of reckoning will come too late. There’s a time lag in climate change — the effects being felt now trace back to gases emitted decades ago. By the time things get bad enough, many further devastating and irreversible changes will already be “baked in” by past emissions. We might not wake up in time.

That is indeed a scary possibility. But there is a scarier possibility, in many ways more plausible: We never really wake up at all.

No moment of reckoning arrives. The atmosphere becomes progressively more unstable, but it never does so fast enough, dramatically enough, to command the sustained attention of any particular generation of human beings. Instead, it is treated as rising background noise.

Maybe climate chaos, a rising chorus of alarm signals from around the world, will simply become our new normal. Hell, maybe income inequality, political dysfunction, and successive waves of a deadly virus will become our new normal. Maybe we’ll just get used to [waves hands] all this.

Humans often don’t remember what we’ve lost or demand that it be restored. Rather, we adjust to what we’ve got.................https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/7/7/21311027/covid-19-climate-change-global-warming-shifting-baselines

 

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Here's a shorter article saying the same thing...

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We are scientists who study how humanity is adapting to the effects of climate change. While some effects are characterized by sudden and catastrophic events — recent hurricanes, wildfires, floods — most of the change is happening gradually via a steady deterioration of conditions year-over-year, decade-over-decade. This pace of change helps us adapt by providing at least some time for our economic, political and social systems to respond.

However, the pace of our changing climate may also come with a downside. It may be easy for humans to normalize a climate that is, at least on geological-time scales, rapidly and dramatically changing.

The metaphor of the boiling frog has long been used to describe this potential risk. If a frog is placed into an already heated pot, the fable goes, it will immediately jump out. If, however, the frog is placed into a cool pot that is slowly heated, the gradually climbing temperature will fool the frog into thinking conditions are not changing, and it will eventually be cooked.

Science tells us that this story is false, at least for frogs. But might it apply to humans? Along with our co-authors, Flavio Lehner and Patrick Baylis, we recently found evidence that humans may in fact be strikingly similar to the fabled boiling frog....................https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/02/25/data-are-frogs-dont-boil-we-might/

 

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