If you are as sick and tired as I am of being told the Chinese symbol for crisis is the same as the symbol for opportunity you’ve no cause for worry here. That cliché does not appear anywhere here. That’s because I’ve sworn on a stack of bible to avoid clichés like the plague. Even when a cliché states with utter precision what I devoutly wish to communicate, I wouldn’t be caught dead using it. This happens to be the case just now as I begin my discussion of the threat of climate change.
To tell you the truth, I’m sick and tired of discussing the climate threat too, so you’ve no worry on that score either. Here you will not encounter any dreary recitations of facts and statistics about melting ice caps, rising sea levels, drowning polar bears, and so on. Dear God, haven’t we heard enough?
Frankly, I think the United Nations ought to dismantle the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These guys have been blabbering about global warming ever since the panel was established in 1988. It seems like every time I turn around IPCC has issued some new report about how dire the situation is. Why do they bother? They always come to the same tired, predictable conclusions. Basically, they say: (1) The problem is even worse than it was the last time we reported; and (2) The really bad shit is going to happen a lot sooner than we last reported. I yearn to yell at them, “Oh, lay off, IPCC! What the hell else is new?!”
If you ask me, the entire climate change debate is stale and hackneyed. What’s the point? Look, if the nation was going to address climate change it would have done so by now, don’t you think? Isn’t it clear that the nation is mightily disinclined to do so? Hasn’t some kind of de facto social decision been made? Somehow we’ve decided that from here on out, it’s business as usual, and when it comes to climate change we’ll simply take our chances.
Take our chances?! Holy fuck! Who am I kidding?
At this point, I want you to imagine me at the Wailing Wall in old Jerusalem beating my breast and lamenting this situation with a cry of pain and sorrow so poignant that it reaches the outer limits of heaven. “Oh, humanity,” I cry. “You foolish, selfish assholes! This time you really have blown it! And we are doomed, doomed, doomed!”
You may now transport me back to the present. Now with the lamenting out of the way we can move on. Putting aside the prospect of doom, at least for the moment, let’s consider the possibility that humanity will somehow muddle through the consequences of catastrophic climate change. Certainly we could do worse than muddle through. But – get this – I’m set to argue that muddling through may be our best option.
Here’s a quote from Benjamin Disraeli, one of my political heroes, that sums up this view of crisis management. “I suppose, to use our national motto, something will turn up.” Trust me. Something will. Something already has.