The other day my man-crush Kevin Drum made a depressed and frustrated-sounding post (Is it time to start adapting to climate change?) in which he basically framed the climate change issue as an either/or choice between working for mitigation to prevent catastrophic warming (which, as he points out, is looking increasingly like a vain pursuit), and pursuing adaptation and geoengineering.
I immediately reacted, at least in my head, with “um, it’s not an either/or question. We have to pursue mitigation, and continue to pursue mitigation, because ultimately that’s the difference between a livable planet and a non-livable planet. And we have to do adaptation, both because a significant amount of warming is already locked in, and because local adaptation efforts represent a path that can take us beyond the current toxic information environment on climate. And finally, geoengineering is something to explore, sure, but that exploration needs to be done in a way that’s mindful of its costs and limitations, not as a way of trying to punt responsibility for solving the problem into a vague and largely ignored future.”
But I’m all about obsessing over The Lizzie Bennet Diaries these days (irony noted, yeah), so I didn’t actually respond to Drum’s post. Thankfully, my other man-crush, Stuart Staniford, was up to the job: Avoiding defeatism on climate change. He starts with the following chart, and gets more and more awesome from there:
The whole post is a must-read for anyone who cares about climate change, and is despairing in the way that Kevin Drum is. Yes, from a certain perspective the problem of climate change is super hard. But like any super-hard problem, you solve it one manageable piece at a time. And even if you can’t see all the steps ahead, you can see well enough to know what needs doing now. So do that. If thinking about the whole job makes you want to curl into a ball and give up, well, I guess you’d better not spend quite so much time thinking about the difficulties inherent in the whole job. Just do the piece in front you. Once you’ve dealt with that, you can move on to the next piece.