Wagon Rides and Climate Change

Posted on January 10, 2012

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Insert kid and push on down the hill?

I think I was about eight years old going I-no-longer-remember-where when I met a kid who was preparing to ride down a hill on his wagon.  I stopped to talk with him for a moment.  He was really enthusiastic about his project, and I left him as he started down.

There was a cross-street on his route that neither the kid in the wagon nor I paid much attention to.  I was out of sight but not out of hearing when the kid and his wagon encountered that cross-street.  I quite distinctly heard the screech of tires on the pavement when that occurred.

No, I don’t think the car hit the kid, but I didn’t go to check.

What my attitude towards the kid’s ride was before he started on down the hill, I don’t remember.  But I remember what it became after I heard those tires screeching.

Make sure you have brakes and visibility before barreling across the intersection.  Oh, yeah.

It’s the same principle with climate change.

By continuing to send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, our civilization is committing us to a particular future, to a particular outcome, just as surely as that kid was committing himself to that hill.  It’s all physics.

Most scientists say that outcome will bring us into heavy cross traffic, into almost certain disaster.  It won’t just be the howl of tires we will hear if we continue hurtling on down that hill.

But some people say we should take the ride anyway.  That ride is just business-as-usual, they say.  We can’t see around the corner or into the future, nothing is absolutely certain, so why spoil our fun?

Get in the wagon, kid, they say to our children.  Get in the wagon, kid, they say to our grandchildren.

But is that ethical or moral, do you think?

And the people who are urging us to take such chances with the future of our civilization? –They appear to lack common sense as well.

They might as well be some dumb kid setting off down the hill in his wagon.

Seems to me.