Sunday, November 11, 2007

Adapt or Croak

That's the Climate Frog speaking, but don't you think she has a point? If only because a frog (not an alarmist blogger) is saying it, it's not a scary statement. It's a plain and simple choice.

In fact, it's the next great human adventure, but this time - unlike with other historic societal cataclysms - we've got the benefits of science, research, forecasting, high tech inventions and the Internet to help us prepare intelligently for what's coming down the pike.

I say adapt locally, for that's where you can have the greatest effect. But network globally, for that's where you get the big picture.

It's a mistake to think that you're adapting only for new weather patterns in your neck of the woods. You're adapting to the impact in your neck of the woods of changes that are happening elsewhere, miles or thousands of miles distant, not all of them climate-driven:

  • changing climate all over the world, which will affect the global economy
  • changing climate where your food comes from, which will affect what you can buy and eat
  • the inexorable rise in fuel prices, which will make everything you buy (and everywhere you go) more expensive
  • the increasing level of dysfunction in national governments (I'm sure you've noticed) that puts responsibility for smart decision-making in the local community
  • the distraction of global leadership and sidetracking of big money into war and wealth maintenance rather than environmental restoration
Yes, we've had a comparatively affluent and stable ride (at least we lucky few) for most of the years since WWII. But as Jared Diamond points out in his exceptionally illustrative book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, societies tend to be both short-sighted and near-sighted. Leaders set the wrong priorities and followers, well, they tend to comply with those priorities.

There's no guarantee that the increasingly fragmented and stratified American experiment is going to last in its current state until its 300th birthday. Certainly not if it we don't all do our parts - in our own local communities - to prepare intelligently and collectively for how things are going to be, and to prepare our kids and grandkids for the world they'll inherit from us.

This is a good thing, folks. It will be challenging, but uplifting. Frustrating but inspiring. Disruptive but oddly comforting. Adaptation is what we do now, in how we live sustainably.

But adaptation is also voting loudly to demand that our governments and our big industries reset their priorities and lead the world in the right direction for all, not just for the elite few. There's still time for our society to choose to succeed.

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