"We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stone"

The latest in a series of Climate Change elevator pitches, being posted regularly at Peter Sinclair's blog:

The first pitch is here.

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By See Noevo (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Does Eric Rignot have any pitches on the Little Ice Age?

By See Noevo (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Jared Diamond neeeds to spread the word on the end of stone tool manufacture to a lot of Kustom Melanesians.

This may take some time., as modern abrasives have revolutionized Neo-neolithic productivity.

By Russell Seitz (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

I was in the 4th grade (1968-1969) and got to see this 1958 Bell Labs educational film "Unchained Goddess" produced by Frank Capra. I keep wondering why 46 years later so little has been done by our country about climate change.

By Mark Hinterthuer (not verified) on 10 Feb 2015 #permalink

Mark, thanks for that link! Fantastic.

It's common sense, change is always necessary and since we have the power to change then, why not?

Ofcourse I could never give up on breathing oxygen unless something better comes along, only then would I give up on it.

I'm sure that even you are forced to upgrade your computer programs and such, in a way that's what change ultimately is.

We have to move on to a new version once it becomes available because most of the time its better than the previous version and usually has added features.
Ultimately change just has to happen if the necessary tools are available to make change possible, don't you think so?

"A computer program that is perfect, if continued to be developed, is no longer perfect."

O, so true... But it *is* capable of extending a marketing campaign for a product whose owners want to continue milking it for profits.

Since Wordstar is no longer around, ask Microsoft about that. (Pick your favorite product of theirs.)

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink

Michael 2- I don't know where you get the idea that change is uniquely socialist. Some of us do have this notion that our society isn't perfect, that there's lots of room for improvement, and that oftentimes what's touted as "meritocracy" is highly dependent on what you choose to call merit.

After all, profitability isn't an automatic indicator of social utility. Slaves were insanely profitable and were a major factor in the economic growth of the South, which posted eye-popping numbers for a century. The thing is, those numbers -- like growth in GDP and exports -- did not capture the fact that the system that built it was a) completely inhuman, to the point that it is indefensible and b) top-heavy growth of the kind you see in lots of resource-based economies that have near-zero investment levels. So even though that system was wildly profitable and got you all the numbers that look fantastic on a balance sheet, I think you'd agree that slavery and cotton are not the way to go. But if you asked a plantation owner or a banker in 1850 if the system was working they would say "hell yes, it ain't broken." But things had to change because the system was clearly a horror for millions, yes millions of people.

In the case of climate change the issue is that we've been doing things in a way that ignores the real costs for a very long time, because the economic system was set up to do precisely that. Not because people were evil or anything, but resources looked infinite 100 years ago. Well, they aren't.

That said, there are plenty of cases where whole civilizations ran out of something vital and didn't realize that unlimited growth was not going to work. The classic Maya ran into this issue, when thy used up all the best land and discovered that you do slash-and-burn in a semi-nomadic context for a reason. (And that's really the only way to do agriculture in many rain forest soils). Several civilizations in the Tigris and Euphrates regions discovered that irrigating soils can increase their salt content. Well, they didn't realize what was happening -- only that over time certain crops weren't growing so well anymore. Then it got to a point where it no longer worked, and those civilizations are gone. But nothing was "broken" -- people could do what they had always done, and it seemed that the social order was ok. Until it went off a cliff.

Sometimes you have to change the way you do things to survive. And it isn't always convenient. But once in a while these things have to happen.

Burning all the carbon is a manifestly bad idea. So we have to stop. If we don't, our current civilization may not survive, and this time there is no place to go away to. And the longer we wait to change the harder it will be.

By the way, try this calculation. Pretend the whole Earth is covered in a 1m-thick layer of light sweet crude. Take the current rate of increase of use and cut it in half. Then calculate how long that giant layer of oil would last. The answer will surprise you I bet.

The vending machine industry requires change, too...

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 20 Feb 2015 #permalink