Saturday, June 18, 2011

The survival quiz

Comparing the number of hits I have received on my last three blog posts has got me asking some questions. I blogged nearly two weeks ago about opera simulcasts, and my post was quickly read by dozens of people. I blogged later that week on the meaning of the resurrection of Christ, and dozens more read what I had to say. I blogged earlier this week on climate change, and hardly anybody read it.

Clearly, this issue matters a lot more to me than it does to many others, even among my Facebook friends, who all receive a link to each now blog post. Therefore, I've put together a little quiz to clarify what I believe are the issues at stake. Think about how you might respond to the following options.

I would be willing to:

a) Pay slightly higher prices for energy.
b) Pay significantly higher prices for energy.
c) Pay significantly higher prices for energy and use much less of it.
d) Pay drastically higher prices for energy and accept major reductions to my standard of living and my personal autonomy.

In order to:

a) Leave behind a healthier world for my children and grandchildren.
b) Keep my children and grandchildren from suffering significant discomfort.
c) Prevent my children and grandchildren from having to cope with ecological catastrophe.
d) Prevent my life expectancy from being drastically shortened, and my children and grandchildren, should I be lucky enough to have them, from having to live in an unimaginably horrible world in which hunger, starvation and suffering are much greater than anything people have faced in recorded history.

Now, my guess is that most people, even among those who are aware of climate change and believe it is happening, think the choice they face is best represented by a) on both lists. Furthermore, I suspect that many (I won't venture to say how many) would not be willing to choose a) on the first list in order to bring about a) on the second list. That seems to be human nature: We get what we can and leave it to others to clean up the mess.

Unfortunately, I believe, and am becoming increasingly convinced by recent weather events, that the true choice, especially if you are under 30, is between d) and d) on both lists. Yes, I do think it's that bad. That's why I'm frustrated beyond belief that most American politicians, including virtually everybody in one of our major political parties, will not even acknowledge that there is a problem.

I'm tagging this post with some significant labels to draw interest. We'll see if it works.


  1. So how do we move enough people from a to d to make a difference on a planetary scale? In particular, how do we move people in the developed world, who will have to give up driving, flying, home and work air conditioning and heating and fresh fruit in winter? And how do we move people in the developing world (esp. China and India) who are striving to enjoy the amenities we already enjoy?

  2. We start talking about it, for one thing. This is not something you or I can do on our own.

    For example, I would gladly use public transportation if it were available in Texas. I can't make that happen, though. Significant political changes will have to take place. Nobody thought we could defeat the guns on campus thing, though, so I won't underestimate what could happen with a significant push from current events, like the one we're all getting this summer.

  3. Well, Robin, I've read and seen lots of talk about this in my neck of the woods. Still, lots of folks in the greater St. Louis area drive ca. 30 minutes to work every day, and do so in SUVs. If people would just live close to work and get there in cars with ≥ 30 mpg, that alone would make a huge difference in energy consumption. Simple solutions, simply ignored.

  4. I also challenge anybody reading this to go without meat 3 or 4 days a week. Baby steps.