Saturday, June 23, 2012

Did I make a mistake?

I am an occupational therapist. I love my work. There are aspects of my job I do not like- mostly having to do with paperwork and insurance companies and such, but I love being an OT.

But I was once a physics major. Only, I wasn't that great of a physics major, so I only got a BA, not a BS, and didn't do anything more with physics. In fact, I double majored with psychology- the only degree I could take where the courses didn't have to be taken in order, so I could still graduate on time- and tried doing research psychology for a while. Until I became too crazy, and had to drop of of grad school ABD. When I finally got myself together again somewhat, I went back to school for OT.

When I left physics, I wasn't quite so worried about our future. I mean, our whole civilization, even our species. And I was sure that there were other people, much smarter than me, already working out the solutions to what to do after the end of cheap oil, and how to stop global warming.

But it doesn't seem to be happening. First of all, people in power don't even admit to the severity of the problem, so they are not funding the correct research. And then- there may not be any solutions, at least that are politically palatable. Everything I read just tells me more and more that we are screwed.

Maybe I should have stayed in physics, in some capacity.

I no longer believe that people will change their ways enough to stop global warming- if we ever could, at present numbers. We couldn't go back to the stone age if we wanted to, there just isn't enough land to support all of us. And I see too many people telling us that if we just buy a Prius, or have meatless Mondays, we can stop global warming. Environmentalism lite.

We can't get people to change, not on the time scale that we need to. And the worst consequence might not even be warming- it might be acidification of the oceans. That is where most of our oxygen comes from. Mess with that, and we are dead.

As for the climate, it is a non-linear system, and it is difficult to say what is going to happen, and how fast. Only that we are adapted to the state of the world as is, and we are no longer nomads who can pick up and go when the weather changes. We are nation states and property owners and renters, and most of all, we are farmers. We depend on agriculture.

Peak oil, and the resulting collapse of industrial civilization, is predicted by some to save us from ourselves. Humans are to clever, we will find a way to keep going for a while, longer than it seems possible, and prop up the status quo. I can think of two things that can save us: a new technology to give us CO2-free energy, and geoengineering to get some of that CO2 our of our atmosphere and de-acidify our oceans.

Of course we could also destroy ourselves with these pursuits. But we need to be thinking about it, we need to be studying this. We need to have options for when things get bad enough. And I think that they will, eventually. But right now the environmentalists are telling us that we can get where we need to get by changing our ways (and if not, then perhaps we deserve our fate). The climate change deniers tell us there is no problem at all. Neither are right, in my opinion. Both have their heads in the sand.

My dad's mother lived to 92. My mom's mother is 92 and still going. If I live that long- I wonder what the world will be like. We here in America have been living in a time of relative climate stability and environmental abundance. I think that will be coming to an end.

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