Guest Editorial: 400pp.

Aaron Holmes

Guest Editorial

Tuesday, November 15 2016

Time for a scary story. Pour a glass of wine while you can. We’re above 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.

You want it darker? Perhaps some context.

We don’t often discuss disease or death in pleasant company. Halloween lets us brush past it in cute, clever costumes. Talk genocide over dinner much?

The climate crisis is hard to stop because in the short run we benefit by making it worse. Ignorance is bliss. Medium: mass extinctions. In the long run? Well, let’s hope we get a long run. 

We’re in an age of consequences. Wine production is down 5% this year due to “climate events”. Fewer grapes mean fewer bottles of wine. But that’s not all.

Consider the threats to geo-political stability, let alone biodiversity, and how a stable climate enabled civilization. Losing that would make genocide look like a lemonade stand. You want it darker?

280 ppm was pleasant over most of human history. We burned through 350 ppm in the late eighties. Now over 400, it’s more of a surprise if we don’t set a temperature record.

Let’s look at it another way. If some company was raiding your savings account, you’d be upset. Rightfully so. You’re going to need that to live on.

Our societal choices dismantle the natural capital that provides air, water, and food, freely, for all, and we’re going need that to live on too.

Intelligent life in the universe is a particularly spectacular candle. We’re currently its stewards. It’s getting windy. Let’s not kill the flame.