Some See Climate Change As Immediate Threat

The Coming Climate Catastrophe
Geoffrey Parker issues a warning in the Chronicle of Higher Education about what he believes is the looming catastrophe of climate change.

Parker, the author of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, argues that history shows that catastrophes are “inevitable,” regardless of whether the root cause is natural or man-made.

“So while we argue over whether or not our climate is changing, and (if so) who is to blame, let us also anticipate—and try to mitigate—the sort of catastrophes that history shows are inevitable,” contends Parker.

Parker asserts that a natural catastrophe of similar proportions to those which occurred in centuries past “regardless of whether humans are to blame—will kill billions of people. It will almost certainly also produce dislocation and violence, and it will compromise international security, sustainability, and cooperation.”

What Parker fears most, however, is that society will continue to focus on the causes of climate change, rather than preparing for its consequences.

He cites paleontologist Richard Fortey who observed: “There is a kind of optimism built into our species that seems to prefer to live in the comfortable present rather than confront the possibility of destruction,” with the result that “human beings are never prepared for natural disasters.”

Marshall Islands Facing Immediate Threat From Climate
Phillip Muller, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, shares Parker’s view that climate change is having a destructive impact. Speaking from his nation’s experience, Muller writes in The Washington Post that climate change poses an immediate threat to the Marshall Islands.

“But in the Pacific, we cannot afford to wait. Sadly, we are learning the terrible realities of living with climate change. My family built a sea wall around our home, but it was destroyed by waves. The rising tides come closer every day,” laments Muller. He says that while his government is trying “to raise the alarm and lead by example,” their efforts “will put only a tiny dent in this problem.”

Not All Ascribe Extreme Weather Events To Climate Change
While Tasha Eichenseher offers criticism of those who leap at every opportunity to link weather events, such as the tornadoes which caused immense destruction in Oklahoma, to climate change, she echoes Parker’s assertion that better preparation is where the focus should lie.

“When you are standing in the muck, or on the remains of your twister-demolished home, trying to figure out where you’ll go next, stemming any broader, potentially culpable climate crisis must seem like a pretty far-fetched and meaningless solution. Perhaps then you can find solace in a possible shift in political climate toward using the science to inform adaptation strategies and better prediction methods, rather than as a pawn in a highly polarizing debate on if and how to turn things around,” she writes.




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