Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Climate: Unstoppable Global Warming
Politicians in elected democracies think on two- or four-year cycles—if that—while even the leaders of an autocratic state like China, without the pressures of an election, are still limited in just how far ahead they can plan. That's not just politics—that's human psychology.
We tend not to be very good at planning for the future—just look at the long-term decline in the American savings rate—and that's just thinking over the scale of a human lifetime. Climatological time is closer to "deep time," the writer John McPhee's term for how the planet's geology changes over millions to even billions of years, a span of time simply unfathomable to human beings. Climate can change a lot faster than that—thanks largely to the billions of tons of greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere over the past 150 years—but it still moves a lot slower than political time, so it's easy to put off until tomorrow. More >>>