How aware are humans of climate change?

How aware are humans of climate change?

07 Jan 2020


There’s only so much time in the day. We get up, do our thing, get some food, mess around during the day, go back to sleep then do it again. In between those activities is the space we have left to devote to other interests and thoughts. Laundry detergent is on sale. Should I read a book or watch TV? My best friends’ birthday is next month. Lisa needs braces.

And oh yeah, what can I do about climate change?

Climate change is a slow-moving monster

It’s a really boring to watch Godzilla - at least as far as human perceptions of time are concerned. Nevertheless, the actions you take today have reactions in the future. It’s the delay between the two where humans are at a disadvantage.

Think about it this way. Light is fast. 186,282 miles per second fast. (300,000 km/s for us metric folks.) At the center of our solar system sits the sun. Nearly every single form of life on our planet depends on its light. It is so far away that it takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for that sunshine to reach Earth.

Now imagine if for some reason the sun got hotter or colder, larger or smaller, or just disappeared altogether? What if it was because of something we did? No matter what, we wouldn’t know until 8 minutes after it happened.

Climate change is the same, though stretched out and played at a slower pace. It's also subject to different outside changes and influences - like humans releasing trillions of tons of previously trapped carbon into the atmosphere.

Eventually though, we’ll see the changes.

Young people are aware of climate-change

Older people are as well. Even polar bears are aware of it, though there’s precious little they can do about it.

The Earth’s climate is going to be whatever it wants to be. Things out of our control are going to change it. It’s a little known fact that moments before an asteroid struck the Earth causing a widespread and long-lasting climate shift that the consumer sentiment of dinosaurs was at historic highs and participants in surveys reported strong confidence in their ability to get food in the near term. In hindsight, those dinosaurs were wrong.

Human industrial activity is not as dramatic as an asteroid strike. Look at climate like crime; there's always going to be some and the intensity can vay. If you lock up the criminals or have a society that better handles the social inequities that causes crime, chances are you will have less. Or you can do none of those things.

Extend the metaphor. Human industrial activities are like going to a prison, shooting the guards, and setting the inmates free. All the carbon Earth had locked up over millions of years, is suddenly (under a couple of hundred years) released. That carbon is going to want to party.

That's a bad prison break. And also entirely foreseeable.

People are worried about climate-change

And they should be. If we continue our current unsustainable ways and If even half of all the things climate scientists predict could happen come true, the world will be a very different place.

Human activity is to blame.

It wasn’t too long ago when smoking was considered normal. Most people thought cigarettes were bad for you. It was vehemently denied by manufacturers. They wanted to protect their bottom line. In order to make money, people needed to buy their products.

Cigarette advertisements actually had doctors’ recommendations.

[image carousel: three images supplied]

But once one of the most obvious cats ever got out of the bag and everyone agreed that yes, smoking was bad for you, the result is that people are still smoking. Tobacco companies still make plenty of money. The only difference is that now we're all in agreement about the obvious.

Similarly, even if everyone agrees that human-caused climate change is a thing, we still have to do the job of weaning ourselves off the things that we continue to use despite the deleterious health effects to us and our planet.

That's hard.

List of countries that are aware of climate-change

Every country everywhere is aware of climate change. Some countries and regions are doing more than others, but they all know about it.

Even countries that officially deny the existence of human-caused climate change, like Big Tobacco before them did, have internal discussions about when the shoe is going to drop and how they'll finally admit what they already know to be true.

In the lead-up to the UN’s 2019 climate change conference, National Geographic took a look at which nations were on track to meet climate goals and which are tanking. Surprise! Those with money and a vested interest in maintaining the status quo were lagging.


What can I do to hinder climate-change?

You can act.

Climate change is just the latest and greatest feat of shambolically short-sighted eco-stewardship perpetrated by mankind.

Did you know that due to human activity from around 1850 until the 1980’s - nearly 96% of old-growth redwoods and sequoias were turned into logs? It's possible for these trees to live upwards of 2,000 years. They survived fires, drought, and flooding. They even made some of the air Jesus breathed.

Here’s a selfie for you.

[image: Humboldt State University Library]

People cut all that history down in a proverbial blink of an eye. Many of those old trees are gone.

But not all. Cutting down those magnificent trees appalled the sensibilities of people even in the 1860s - a time when in the United States, government-sanctioned slavery still existed - and they called for conservation.

So people also saved some of those trees. It shows that it’s still possible to fight the vested interests and save things for posterity. If they acted sooner or had more power, we might have more of, “those magnificent pillars, which form so strange a crown to the mountains when seen from San Francisco and the bay.”

We can learn from history and act. We can do better than those that came before.

Examine your life. See what small changes you can make. Work to educate the people around you and together we can salvage things, maybe even start taking care of this planet and doing some much-needed repairs.

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