Climate Change: A Moving Target

I made a post on Facebook a while back, and a discussion on a forum I participate in made me think of it, and I decided I wanted to re-post it here, so that it’s here and not just on Facebook (which some day I’ll have the fortitude to delete). So, here it is:


You sit down with your spouse and say, “Honey, I’ve done all the math, and in 12 years, if we don’t change our spending habits, we’re going to be dead broke and living on the street.” And your spouse says, “Twelve years? That’s plenty of time! We’ll definitely make some changes later, but let’s not change anything right now.” So for the next year, your spouse does not change their spending habits, but you convince your boss to give you a raise and you start buying groceries at a different, cheaper store.

You sit down again to have the budget talk and you say, “Honey, I’ve done all the math, and in 12 years, if we don’t change our spending habits, we’re going to be dead broke and living on the street.” And your spouse says, “Twelve years? We’ve got plenty of time to fix it, but let’s not do it right now.” And again they don’t change, but you start clipping coupons, and you let your hair grow long to cut down on hair cuts, and you start packing your lunch for work every day.

Again you sit down for the budget talk and you say, “Honey, I’ve done all the math, and in 12 years, if we don’t change our spending habits, we’re going to be dead broke and living on the street.” And your spouse says, “Twelve years? Didn’t you say that last year? And the year before? I’m beginning to think you don’t know what you are talking about, but twelve years is a long time anyway. Even if what you say is true, we’ve got time, so let’s not make any changes now.” But you start switching to store brands over name brands, and you’ve stopped buying new clothes, and you’ve started taking the bus to work. You start having a lot of “date nights” at home doing the Netflix and chill instead of going out.

Budget time again… all the math… 12 years… “Twelve years again? I’m starting to think this going broke thing is just something you are saying to try to control me…” You get a new job, better pay, but it’s soul crushing. You drift through life on the minimum, trying to save money, but watch all your efforts to put something away for a rainy day turned into “Wow! We can afford that vacation to Hawaii now! or maybe a new car!”

You want the threat of being broke and living on the street to go away, to be something you don’t have to worry about, but all the efforts you make just seem to be keeping it at bay. You could just stop. Let it go. Spend the money, enjoy it, and maybe you’ll win the lottery or something. Maybe everything will change and utopia arrives and there is no more need for money. You could simply not care and embrace the inevitable…

But you care. So you keep scrimping and saving, you keep cutting and changing. You keep the end at bay, always just far enough away so that your spouse always feels like there is plenty of time, later, to fix it, instead of fixing it now.

It’s like that. Only it’s Climate Change.

When you hear people scoff at “Global Warming” and put out the “If warming, why snow?” points of view, you have to remember, the reason it hasn’t become unlivable yet is because some people are doing the work. Some people are keeping it at bay for the rest. So when someone talks about the Green New Deal or renewable energy, and they pull out some number like “In 12 years, we’ll be past the point of no return if we don’t get better…” That isn’t planting a flag. That isn’t a hard deadline. It isn’t “On March 26th, 2031, at 12:08 AM, the Climate will irrevocably change. End of story.” It doesn’t work that way. 12 years is an estimate, based on what we know AND IF WE DO NOTHING. But we ARE going to do things, in spite of the opposition, and it is very possible that in 12 years, we’ll still be saying “In 12 years, we’ll be past the point of no return if we don’t get better…” because for 12 years we’ve made enough change to keep “the end” at 12 years away. That doesn’t make the current prediction wrong. It means that “the end” is a moving target. It’s always been a moving target. And it will always be a moving target… until we stop just patching the problem, and fix it instead.

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