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I don’t know about you, but I am feeling humbled by the recent spate of natural disasters. They show that we humans are not masters of the universe. In the past three months, we’ve seen major earthquakes on three continents, a seriously disruptive volcanic eruption on another, and debilitating floods on yet another. It feels like Armageddon!
We understand the concepts behind forces like plate tectonics, volcanoes, and weather, yet we still can’t predict them precisely. People joke derisively about weathermen being wrong day in and day out and still keeping their jobs. But, I think most of us appreciate that it’s difficult to make precise predictions about a natural phenomenon.
Climate change is another global phenomenon that has the potential to seriously impact our lives, our economies, and our eco-systems. Like a storm or volcanic eruption, we can confidently predict its occurrence and we understand its cause. The difficulty lies in predicting the timing and magnitude of the impending climate change.
A March 20th article in The Economist summed it up well: “Action on climate change is justified, not because the science is certain, but precisely because it is not.” Unlike natural disasters, climate change is a catastrophe that will unfold gradually over decades. This is one global disaster waiting to happen that we humbled humans do have the power to prevent, but only if we can join together in the effort.