Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Weather Of Mass Destruction

There is a thought-provoking piece by Johann Hari on the long-term significance of climate change. His thesis is that there is compelling evidence of increases in extreme weather events and that "we humans are responsible for more and more of them". At the same time, Hari points to a fact that is all too obvious but not emphasised nearly enough - that "natural" disasters are not just the products of geological or meteorological accidents. They are also directly related to consumer-driven lifestyles and how the global economy distributes its wealth. In response, Hari does not offer some kind of deep green ecologism - he's too wedded to industrial civilisation, big cities and what he calls "rootless cosmopolitan culture" for that. Nonetheless he acknowledges that some radical transformations are needed:
But whether we like it or not, we are going to have to make some massive concessions to the planet we live on. You don't have to love nature to admit this; you just have to love life. Yes, changing the way we live is going to be a wrenching and problematic process - but it will be far more painful to deal with rapid climate change and face many more weeks like this one.
And Hari concludes with an apocalyptic prospectus if the world is not willing to change:
Take a good look at the newspapers' front pages this week. Unless there is drastic action to tackle climate change, you will have to get used to extreme weather events. Get used to drowned tourists. Get used to armies of children orphaned by the weather. Get used to huge outflows of refugees running from an encroaching sea. Next time, we won't have the comfort of knowing it had nothing to do with us.
Read the rest.
(Via Dead Men Left which also has an interesting comment)


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