James Lovelock Gives Up
I'm day logging this late, I know, but it's important. Or at least interesting. Noteworthy. James Lovelock is THE environmentalist. He came up with the Gaia hypothesis, he predicted the environmental problems we would be seeing decades in advance, and he has stuck to his guns even when everyone hated him. He is the cornerstone of the environmental movement, at least as far as scientific circles go.
Starting on March 1st, he started giving interviews saying that the planet has reached the 'tipping point', that no matter what we do, we're pretty much doomed, and that we might as well give up. He claimed that most of what we are doing to become more green is worthless -- or completely insufficient, anyway.
He did admit that some damage control was possible, but made firm predictions that in the next 20-30 years we would start to see large scale disruptions in the weather patterns, sea levels rising, and general chaos. Food production would be hit hard, major cities flooded, social chaos -- particularly in Europe, where refugees could easily enter from Africa and Eastern Europe. And that this was now inevitable.
This is pretty standard stuff. We know that a lot of this is probably coming, but his prediction of 80% of humans dead is pretty scary. Even more scary is his conviction that we can't do much of anything -- worse, shouldn't bother trying to do much of anything.
Most of us have gotten used to the idea that we should not buy land in Florida or have any long term investments in India, but most of us (I think) believe that we, personally, will be fine. We will deal. Our governments will deal. If we have to rebuild parts of New York or London, well, it's sad, but we can do that. We can save the rain forests. We can live off of solar power. Our children can live long and happy lives.
I think James Lovelock is wrong. I think he sees India starving, Africa at war, and polar bears going extinct and thinks that the world is ending. I think that we put up with 10,000,000 people starving every year, so we will put up with 1000,000,000 starving a year. I don't think that it will slow the advance of medical science, deprive us of food or wealth, or even make us very sad.
I know that this is very cynical, to think of so many people dying as a bump in the road, but on the other hand it is a much more productive attitude than just giving up. By stating that we have hope, and that we will keep hope no matter what happens, we can have a chance at repairing those parts of the world that survive intact. Even Lovelock admits that saving the rain forest may help buffer the damage (he recommends the charity Cool Earth, by the way). I think we can and should buffer the damage To The Max, and keep using solar power, wind power, recycling, and all the other green activities that we think might do some good. Because giving up never solved anything.