Tibetan Rhinos & the Politics of Climate Change

Posted on September 3, 2011

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If you were hanging out in the Pleistocene when the last Ice Age arrived, a good address was Tibet.  There existed a pocket of animals from that region, which, because they lived high up on a plateau, were already adapted to the cold.

The Ice Age was hard on animals adapted to the outgoing warmer climate—which was most of them.  To survive a colder world, all and everything had to re-adapt.  But animals which were already adapted to the cold, such as those on that Tibetan plateau, actually expanded their range.  They out-competed those slow-starters in the lowlands.

Sounds like those wild wily woolly Tibetan rhinos are sending us a message.

You see, we may all be in climate change together, but we can’t really expect people in other parts of the world to be as stupid as we are trying to be in Canada and the United States.  People everywhere can see what’s coming.  The experts have been saying it, of course, but no one needs experts to tell them a change is happening because it’s obvious to all.

Regardless, those who listen to their experts—and to their own eyes and common sense—those, that is, who are already working at getting ready for a new climate and a world with different rules, will be a lot better prepared for the kinds of adjustments that will be required than those who pretend nothing is happening.

Those Tibetan rhinos are giving us the benefit of their experience.  You either prepare for change now, says that smug Tibetan faction, or get out-competed by those who do.

Climate change denial as a national policy—the promised national policy of the Republican Tea Party, the implicit national policy of the Conservative Party of Canada, the operational provincial policy of the Liberal Party of British Columbia—is the surest road to poverty and second rate status for all of us living in these places.  (As well as making a bad problem worse, but that’s a given.)

If we fail to adapt, if we pursue dead-end and environment-killing projects like the Alberta tarsands, for instance, we will merely make ourselves obsolete.  The only economies which are going to survive in a world of climate change will be those that are making the transformation now.

The rest, clinging to a failed idea and a dying way of doing things, fatally trailing the pack, will sometime in the course of the coming changes be doing a meet-and-greet with the dodo, the dinosaurs and all the other extinct species.

The woolly wily Tibetan rhinos have made that clear.

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Read about the Tibetan rhinos here:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901142100.htm