The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, May 19, 2014

City Views Gave Me Perspective on Climate Change Denial

My trip into Philadelphia recently had an unexpected consequence. It gave me some perspective on why we are reluctant to believe in climate change. Being in the city was just so impressive. There all around us was the creativity and technical prowess of humanity. The skyscrapers juxtaposed against the buildings of centuries past looking like a science fiction background against humbler architecture. The sunlight glinting off those huge buildings early in the morning, long before it has reached the streets.

The soaring monuments to our faith dotting the landscape and lifting our spirits. The interiors of such spaces speaking to our aspirations and our awe in everything.

Then there is the artwork scattered through it all. The joy to be found in the whimsy and the thought provoking masterworks of many people. And all around us was the seemingly secure masses of humanity. All of us together, moving from place to place in mostly orderly ways and undertaking civil pursuits. It was all very reassuring.

The green spaces gave all the right grace notes of nature amid the brick, concrete, and steel. Nature manicured and well behaved.

It is so easy, in the confines of a great city, to believe that we, the human race, are the masters of the universe. It is easy to imagine we have it all under control and what we see around us will last forever. It has that feel about it ... in the best kept neighborhoods and business districts.

However, last week it was reported that the West Antarctic ice sheet is collapsing, melting into the sea at a rate now unstoppable, which will eventually raise the water levels 10 feet or more. Worse, this will open up melting and movement of ice in Antarctica's interior, dramatically further increasing sea levels. Very worst of all, this process first forecast in the 1970s is no impossible to stop. We are now faced with impacts of our actions that we cannot take back with all our technological prowess.

We need to shake loose from the over confidence we gain from all the amazing things we have done and the cities we have made. We are being as destructive as we are being creative. One scientist recently said, irrational overconfidence leading to dumb decision making may be the undoing of us all.

However, if we act now, we may be able to slow the rate of ice loss and give our children and their children more time before millions must be displaced from their homes and move to higher ground. This will be worst on those who are poorest and live on unsatisfactory low ground because they have been unable to afford better, safer locations. Let's all help those future sufferers now. Perhaps we can mitigate against the very worst of what we have already set in motion. It is worth a try, before many of the amazing places we have created and the inspiring artwork we have produced is submerged beneath a rising tide created from our own indifference ... or blind refusal to see past our own technological skills.

For additional posts related to climate change, see:, and

For a little foretaste of what this may mean for our descendants, see:

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