Some Thoughts on Climate Change

The last time I really learned about climate change – not counting in this class – was probably back in middle school. We spent at least a few classes on it. There was this one particular segment of a video in which a farmer was gazing up at the sky; the sun would be his deciding factor on when to start planting, and as time passed, he started to notice a difference.

I lived up in North America up until college. I’m used to having a fall and winter that’s actually cold, but the past couple winters have been weird. On October 31st of my senior year of high school, there was snow. Thick snow. Electricity and internet shut off. There was always a power outage at least once a year, but that was usually during the fall. I remember this clearly because everybody in my grade had flocked to Starbucks and the library in order to send off their applications through Common App. School and Halloween had been canceled in one go. It was a very surreal experience. I’d say it’d be one strange incident, but there is always a cause behind every effect. Winter after that seemed to come a little earlier, and get a little colder every year. There are more storms. The stream water by the soccer field, after a little testing, is actually a bit acidic. You won’t be finding any fish there.

In high school, someone presented the concept of fractals. Math found in nature. Patterns beget more patterns. One big pattern is made of a long continuous set of the same pattern – but on a smaller scale. Like snowflakes, flowers, or conch shells. The golden ratio, for instance, is a fractal.

image of golden ratio, 

Anyway, that presentation on fractals is one of the things that I think about when it comes to climate change. That up and down swing between cold and hot, steadily rising up towards hot. Some scientists say that global warming is inevitable, and I think I agree. I think the question now is whether or not humans’ carbon footprint is hastening it instead. The earth would survive it. Not sure humans would.

Watching No Impact Man, I thought that Mr. Beavan was so selfish and arrogant. The project may have been his, but if he couldn’t do it without his wife and child, clearly the whole thing should’ve been renamed No Impact Family. I did not disagree with his decision to attempt to live a year without creating waste, but I think he did it at the wrong time and the wrong place. Maybe even with the wrong people. There was much that didn’t seem too well-planned about his project – why choose to do the project when his child was still so young? (In fact, why involve the child and wife at all?) Why in the city, when temptation is around every corner, when it can be dangerous traveling on foot all the time? The lack of toilet paper seems terribly drastic. (There’s probably an alternative to toilet paper that isn’t made of trees somewhere.)

This must be what it was like to live back in the 1800s.

I’m guessing they were successful. But change needs a lot more than three people (even if they might be living in the simplest, most environmentally-friendly way possible). Or even three thousand people, when there are billions of humans on the earth.

After finishing watching No Impact Man’s documentary last week, I feel the need to revisit and add to this post. I ended up feeling a little less antagonistic towards Mr. Beavan, but not enough to completely change my opinion of him. However, the experiment was a pretty good idea – in the sense that he really went all-out to change his lifestyle and test his limitations. I’m really unhappy about the way he went about it and forced his family to live up to his expectations, but at least Mrs. Beavan got something out of it. Which was one of his points: to change somebody enough that they would want to live a life that’s less of a burden on the earth.

picture source: http://www.ancientcartography.net/GOLDENan.html

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