Hope Versus Time

I’ve been thinking about this blog post off and on the last week or so because it frames climate change in pretty stark terms.

If you’re really serious, you should also toss out your air conditioning; only heat your house if temps are down in the 40s; never travel anywhere by plane; buy local food; and install rooftop solar.

I could probably have 100 hours of conversation about this in a week: why so few people are doing anything about it, whether doing these things would really matter in the first place, what it would take to actually have an impact, etc.

But just as a thought exercise, I tried to imagine different time frames for mass devastation.

For example:

  • If you knew that tens of thousands of people would die from horrendous weather events tomorrow, and the only way this could be prevented was by using the basest electricity, eating food from your garden and not traveling anywhere for the next 24 hours, would you do it? Yeah, of course you would.
  • If you knew all this would happen in a week unless you did these things, would you? Most of us would, yeah.
  • What about in a month? Some of us would, maybe a majority.
  • What about in a year? Would you forego seeing friends and family who weren’t within walking distance that long? I think less than a majority would.
  • But in 50 years? Would you go 50 years without driving or flying or having any real heat or AC in your home? Almost no one would, I’m guessing. Why?

That’s the part that’s tricky. It’s hard to think so far out, and we probably want to have hope. At least some of us do. Hope that things won’t be so bad. Hope that there will be another solution. Hope that something random will happen that keeps the devastation from happening in the first place.

These are the kinds of conversations I’d like to have with my kids, but can never seem to bare to. Because they’ll be feeling a lot more pain in the future than I will. And their kids will feel even more pain than them. And so on and so on. It’s terrible. And hard to fully grasp. At least psychologically.

It’s the moral exercise of a generation. Or two. And it can just feel so hopeless to take action. We need to have hope.

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