Eric Holthaus on Humanity’s Role in Climate Change


Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere, but I think in the most basic definition, meteorology is the study of the world around us. Right now, what’s happening in the world, the way that we’ve modified the atmosphere, it’s impossible to separate
the physical science aspect of weather in things like economics, or political science, or sociology, or psychology. means that meteorology is a social science as well as a hard physical science. Those things are now intertwined. There is a prediction that before the end of the century there will be heatwaves in some parts of the world that are physically unable for humans to survive because the amount of humidity in the air will rise above the body’s resting temperature so that sweating is incapable of cooling down bodies. So that anyone outside will die within a matter of a few hours. And that’s predicted to happen by the end of the century in parts of the Middle East and India. This year Mozambique was hit with two record breaking cyclones in the span of a month. These were some of the worst disasters in recorded history in the southern hemisphere. Mozambique is one of the lowest income countries in the world. They didn’t cause this problem. It’s not their fault that their coastal cities were not able to accommodate this
record breaking flood and it’s not their job to have to now go out and take hundreds of millions of dollars worth of loans from the IMF to fund their own recovery. It’s just such a blatant injustice. But it’s not just one specific type of disaster that I’m most afraid
of. I think the scariest disaster right now is continuing to do basically nothing about climate change, that we just continue on
our current path. I think knowing that is a reminder that, oh yeah, I can be doing more. And I don’t have to be doing it by myself. I’m in it with everyone. We’re all doing this together. And I think that’s just a hopeful takeaway from what could be a very depressing story. And that’s sort of my mission to switch the narrative about climate change as being one of inevitable disaster to one of possibility.

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