Wednesday, March 02, 2016

We Can't Take This Planet For Granted

Before it becomes even older news, Leonardo DiCaprio's eloquent statement in support of confronting the climate crisis was heard by perhaps a billion people as he accepted the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor.   The shot of him accepting became the most replicated image in Internet history.

It took a very long time since it was suggested (by me, among others, probably) that stars of this wattage needed to bring this issue into awareness, to help create what I once heard Bill McKibben call an "emotional consensus."  Like everything else on this crisis, we've been slow.  Maybe too slow, but we are where we are.  We are maybe close to some general acceptance of the reality of global heating.  And part way towards the emotional consensus to address it.  If this helps, especially the next generations, then maybe we're further along.

DiCaprio also spoke directly of the initial threat to the poor and Indigenous cultures, which are already feeling dramatic impacts, and at least in the near future, may well bear the brunt of the climate crisis effects. He also linked this issue directly to the movie for which he won the Oscar.

Meanwhile, the Guardian fills in some details on why DiCaprio has been outspoken on the climate crisis.  And the Washington Post story, titled Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar speech was about climate change, which is worse than we thought, cites an unnoticed study that suggests that cutting carbon more and faster than the baseline UN figures suggests may be necessary to avoid far future catastrophe.  Attacking the causes more urgently may be required.

Dealing with the effects involves seeing them for what they are, also a problem of perception.  For instance, last week a study showed that sea levels rose faster in the 20th century than in the previous 27 centuries, but might not have risen at all except for the climate crisis effects.  Now another study shows that the costs of sea levels rising "rise faster than the seas themselves."

Figuring that out requires, for one thing, that we see these disparate phenomena and costs as consequences of sea level rise due to the climate crisis.  Only when we see this can we begin to develop strategies for dealing with the problem in all its dimensions.

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