Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to prevent the apocalypse

A couple of climate change stories floated into view today, both of which indicate that global warming effects are happening faster than anybody thought they would. Glaciers are melting, and the North American forests may change from carbon sink to a carbon source. Oh, and let's check up on my favorite thing to worry about, the possible massive release of sequestered methane in permafrost and ocean hydrates: oh fuck.

It occurs to me (not for the first time) that I am not taking this seriously enough. Climate change is an active threat to my children, but what am I doing? Kvetching on a blog? Changing my lightbulbs? It seems pitifully inadequate. Organizing a mass movement? Not really in my realm of competence, and the people who actually have the temperament for something like that don't seem to be doing very well. Rioting in the streets? Ecotage? Bringing down industrial civilization may stop climate change but it will cause equivalent misery, so not really a solution. There are no good social tools to apply to solving world-scale collective action problems, and my individual actions can't do much.

Well, I am foregoing whatever theoretical riches I could make working in a Facebook gaming startup or whatever, and instead working (however indirectly) to support the kind of science that might actually be able to do something about climate change. That makes me feel a little bit better. At least I'll be able to say I went down fighting.

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