As the UN Climate Change Conference attempts to negotiate a new climate treaty in Copenhagen, their goal of cutting emissions ignores the imperative of addressing the global impacts that we are already experiencing. What the delegates need to create is a framework to prevent future wars over limited resources, provide basic necessities for the bottom billion, and to address the role of humanity on this planet. It’s not about ‘sustainable development‘ anymore, but climate resilience.
In the process of teaching this semester, I’ve come to understand the magnitude of climate change and how far past the point-of-no-return we’ve gone. Much of this evidence has been known for a while, but now the pieces are falling into place and penetrating into our collective awareness. The time is now to start adjusting for the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, eutrophication, sea level rise, melting glacier/snowpack, drought, invasive species, and more intense storms/flood events, along with the parallel crisis of peak copper, oil, and other resources.
That said, we must not give up in our fight to reduce our carbon emissions and all our other environmental impacts. We must also start an all out effort towards creating a resilient landscape and civilization that can adapt to the new Anthropocene climate.