It’s Never about the Weather



Discussing anything even remotely related to climate change these days is a frustrating endeavor. If it’s not someone shouting “the weather’s getting colder, so what the scientists say must be wrong!” or “It’s all just a conspiracy!” or some other epitaph of hatred, it’s always a question about what one can do and how things are either being done out of proportion or not being done enough. The lack of consensus on the issue alone is a sore selling point – as is the frustrating branding and marketing of it by both those against and for it. Those against it rail that it’s a conspiracy, those that are for it either focus too much on condemning the former group or not enough time to properly explain it to the common man.

What both groups fail to realize though, is that this entire affair with climate change is not about the weather. It’s not about how cold, hot, wet, dry and such it is where you are – which is kind of ironic given the name. It isn’t even about the economy or such. The entire affair boils down to a simple, succinct little tablet of wisdom that has served to protect our ancestors for generations before they were even aware or cared of the quality of the air they breathed. What was this wisdom, pray tell? Well, it’s simple enough to highlight:

It’s about not living in your own filth.

It’s as simple as that. We’ve learnt this fact over the centuries that living in pools of our own unsanitary and unhygienic wastes bring diseases to the body (amongst other things). Thus we developed sewage systems along with methods to dispose of our trash and to put it away from our bodies, even if not from out of our minds. It is why your parents tell you to wash every day – to clean your room neat and tidy and remain presentable – because letting yourself run away and living in a cesspool of your own feces will eventually kill you off. Doesn’t matter if you are filthy rich or poor – neither disease nor bacteria care for anything other than the fact that you have a pulse.

But that is mostly for the stuff we know, hear, see and smell. What of CO2? Of the gases and other nasty elements we like to pump into the atmosphere that we don’t really like to pay attention to? Just based on principle alone, pumping these out haphazardly as we do today means that they’re going to affect someone, somewhere. Given just how scattered we are on the planet, I have no doubt or surprise if I am, in fact, breathing the waste products and gases of someone from Mexico or china right this instant and vice versa.

Given this inter-connectivity, it means that basically anything we do to this system affects the entire system to varying extents or scales. It may not affect it noticeably, but it will affect it in an oh-so-subtle way that we don’t quite understand due to its infinite complexity. The only time we realize it may be negative is when it’s too late; just like an infection of bacteria crawling into the skin and settling there, only to make it known when it causes you to fall over dead or seriously inconvenience you.

In many ways there’s very little difference between the Earth and our bedrooms. Both serve as environments in which we exist and live our puny, day to day lives – but where we spoil the bedroom with the possessions of a single individual, we spoil the planet with the possession of six billion. Global climate change is but one symptom of this disease and laziness – even if the weather gets colder than it ever has in the past, it doesn’t change the fact that we possibly did it by simply refusing to clean up after ourselves.

But making use or doing anything about it is a herculean task in itself. The primary issue that comes to the forefront is the same thing that haunts many a climate change scientist: scale and complexity. The enormity of our Industrial roots and lifestyle makes just the sheer amount of waste we generate boggling to contemplate – but that is just in quantity. Shifting through the different types of wastes alone and trying to sort it out – from the radioactive to the biodegradable – raises the complexity of the issue by an order of magnitude too far for even the best minds to think about – much less that of our sturdy politicians and senators.

Suddenly it isn’t just CO2 that’s an issue – it’s all the different kinds of filth that makes its way into the water, our lungs or underground that we can’t see hear or feel about until they crawl up our pipes, clog up the drains or simply explode in our faces. Sure, there’s enough space out there to not worry about it for the moment. After all, out of sight is out of mind…but eventually that space is going to run out, and it’s going to start strangling us by the neck. The only main difference is if it’ll be our problem to deal with or someone else’s. After all, it’s naturally a human action to just pass the buck for someone else to deal with.

For those that do wish to deal with it, even more conundrums present themselves. We cannot – no, must not – let go of the cause; namely our Industrial roots and society. This is, after all, the pinnacle of our civilization for the moment – what we have evolved millions upon millions of years to achieve from that primitive Neolithic caveman. There is no telling where we will head in the future, while there is no hope of anything to be gained by reverting ourselves to a previous state of existence – not that we could, anyway. After all, real life has no save games, no previous checkpoint to return to – and even if it did, the previous stages all had their own big problems.

The only logical solution that presents itself is to go forward – and to do so in a blazingly fast manner to change the fundamental way of how we go about that entire industrial process. However, given the resistance to change that is encountered these days in many an institute – both here and abroad – not even that seems possible. Perhaps when people begin to realize the wisdom behind trying to avoid climate change, maybe we’ll be able to actually do something about it on a large enough scale to matter.

Until then, it looks like the only thing to do is twiddle one’s thumbs and see the hilarity of semantics being tossed back and forth.


1 Comment

  1. JG says:

    Excellent post. Brilliantly written.