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  • Denise Marion

ON GROWTH AND PROCRASTINATION


You know how children grow so slowly, and parents don’t notice it until the kids have outgrown their clothes? Then the grandparents come over and say, “Wow, look how you’ve grown!” And the kids think, “Of course I’ve grown. Everybody knows kids grow.” 

 

Climate change is a bit like that. But not entirely.

 

Climate change is more like a school project the teacher assigned, due at the end of the semester. The end of the semester is a long way off, and there are so many other, more fun, things to do. So we procrastinate until the last minute, then stay up all night working like crazy on a slap-dash job and hope for the best.  

Scientists did give us a due date 40 years ago by telling us that if we keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C (3.4 F) we could probably save coral reefs, Arctic ice and have lower heat waves. Oops. We didn’t turn in that assignment on time: for the past 12 months our planet has been 1.52 C above pre-industrial temperatures. 

 

Does that mean we’re doomed? Not necessarily. 1.5C isn’t a threshold where the Greenland ice sheet suddenly collapses overnight. We do know, however, that Earth’s physical systems are signaling danger, and every 10th of degree of warming we avoid gives plants, animals and humans more time to adapt to more of what we are already witnessing.  


We look at our way of life and it is good. We look at our civilization and see it is complex. We look at the planet and see it is huge. Time feels long, and change is inconceivable. Yet, planetary warming, like children, will inevitably grow. How fast is still up to us.

 

Let’s not procrastinate any longer.

We should still turn in that assignment even if it’s late.

Remember, we’re all in this together.


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