Halloween, Climate Change, and Our Responsibility to Future Generations

For Halloween I’d like to reflect the sentiments of Joseph Romm, editor of Climate Progress(one of the best blogs on climate change), Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and author of Hell and High Water.

The scariest thing for our children is to watch us do nothing.

Romm asks us to think of the future of our children as they playfully make their way trick-or-treating down the streets this evening, and then to consider these recent words from James Hansen, the nation’s top climate scientist, quoted in part by Romm and repeated here:

… the most serious effects will be visited upon the young and the unborn, the generations that bear no responsibility for the problem. The most important effects, I believe, will be those that are irreversible for all practical purposes, specifically (1) extermination of species, and (2) ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise. If we continue business-as-usual energy policy, using more and more fossil fuels, it is likely that we will have:
(1) rapid climate change that will combine with other pressures on species to cause the rate of extinction of plants and animals to increase markedly, leading in some cases to ecosystem collapse, snowballing extinctions, and a more desolate planet for future generations.
(2) meter-scale sea level rise this century, and ice sheets in a state of disintegration that guarantees future sea level rise in the 10-meter-scale, with a continual reworking of future global coastlines out of humanity’s control.”

I’ve recently been accused by a rabid commenter that I should go to jail because I am “scaring the children”. And yet the most dangerous thing for our children is this man’s attitude. We have before us a great challenge. And yet with that challenge comes great opportunity to truly make the world a better place for all those that will follow.

And the choice could not be more stark, for to do the opposite -to deny, ignore, act out of fear, and to engage in willful ignorance – is to doom those for whom bear no responsibility of our actions the consequences of them.

Indeed, the scariest thing for our children is for them to watch us do nothing.

We stand at a precipice and the choice is clear.

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Full text of James Hansen’s comment’s (pdf)

Tags: james+hansen, future+generations+climate+change

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