Adapting to our new climate?


I caught the first half of Radio 4’s Iconoclast programme tonight which featured amongst other guests, Green party principle speaker Dr. Caroline Lucas and environmental sceptic Professor Bjorn Lomborg who argues that the Green movement is deeply pessimistic.  Apart from saying that Dr. Lucas stood up remarkably well to his arguments which were economically and emotionally based and biased, I don’t really want to discuss the programme in depth.  I didn’t hear it all anyway.  I just want to take up a few issues regarding his thoughts that we should try to ‘adapt’ to our new climate.

To paraphrase (because I can’t remember his exact words) Prof. Bjorn, he said that humans are better off trying to adapt to the new conditions rather than fight against this climate change.  He used the emotionally charged argument that we should divert the money away from climate change causes and move it towards healing and poverty.  Well, apart from the obvious obstacles of adapting, such as the one that Dr. Lucas brought up asking how on earth can we adapt to rising sea levels of 50+cm (?) it did get me thinking about nature’s ability to adapt

I can to a certain extent, accept the theory that we would adapt to our change of conditions.  Nature and animals, and I include humans here, have adapted their way through planetary processes of change throughout history.  Nature fights back.  It finds a way.  Or it dies off.  But not without a fight.  Survival of the fittest, natural selection and all that. (I always think of the Dr. Ian Malcolm character in Jurassic Park who describes himself as a Chaotician and came out with lines such as…”The lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here, uh… staggers me.” and “No, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.”).  

But, in the past, although nature and life has always fought hard to adapt to its new habitat in order to survive, it has done so without all the un-natural processes that are now involved.  It’s defence wasn’t impeded by massive, unnatural human activity.  We didn’t grossly rape the planet back then.  We didn’t emit pollutants to the extent that we do now. 

The Earth provides everything that we need and it provides it in abundance.  Food, warmth, water.  Plants for well-being and remedies for every kind of ailment, including mental ones…can all be found on this good Earth. Even the chemically-produced drugs that bring so much wealth to our pharmaceutical giants have a basis in natural plants and herbs found in the earth.  We have now totally lost the ability to self-suffice.
 
And I do wonder about the fossil fuels that we are draining from the insides of the Earth?  Is this really a natural process?  Is the oil there for the taking?  What if the oil is a vital lubricant sustaining the Earth?  Is the process of oil and coal extraction not detrimental to the planet’s life-force?  Isn’t all this digging and ecological disruption causing much stress and pressure to the inner workings of the Earth?  Does this not cause earthquakes?  I know earthquakes have always occured but untill now they’ve ocurred naturally. The human body is very hardy but it can only take so much prodding and poking…it can only be patched up for so long then eventually it will say, ‘no more’ and will pack in.  Is the Earth any hardier?  I’m no geologist and I may be talking nonsense but the oil is there for a reason.  And somehow, I can’t imagine it ended up there, naturally or by design, just so we could, in the last couple of centuries of the life of the Earth, bleed it out and then, as if to rub salt in the wound, use it to kill off the planet altogether.  

What I’m trying to say, rather badly, is that all the climatic changes we have adapted our way through have been naturally induced changes.  20th and 21st century social and economic lifestyles and human activity that are causing these latest changes are far from natural.  Can we adapt to unnaturally induced enemies?

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