Corey, thank you. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said. I’m glad I can share this very moving piece with my own audience.

frightened childI’ve written before about how we should all be substantially more concerned about the future than what we as a society appear to be. Climate disruption is society’s enemy number one, especially considering that:

  1. all this unprecedented warming is happening on a template of highly degraded land- and seascapes. Extinction synergies (more extinctions than would otherwise be predicted by the simple sum of the different pressures) mean that climate change exacerbates the extinctions to which we are already committed;
  2. we show no sign of slowing emissions rates, partly because of the world’s ridiculous refusal to embrace the only known energy technology that can safely meet emissions-reduction requirements: nuclear power;
  3. there are 7 billion hungry, greedy humans on planet Earth, and that number is growing;
  4. scientific evidence denial, plutocracy and theocracy are all on the rise, meaning that logical, evidence-based decision making is being progressively tossed out the window.


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  1. No need to scare the kiddies. We tend to work these things out as we need to, and adapt where we can’t. Humans are remarkably able of discerning when they need to act as a group, and those who see further ahead than others always think the crowd will change too late.

    Have faith. What you are doing is a good thing, and will continue to grow, becoming part of a better tomorrow. Grand changes in societal thinking take time to take root, but never too much time. Just more time than we are comfortable with.

    Most projections show us topping out at 9 to 9.5 billion. So realistically, not that many more. With nuclear power, we’re good.

    The rise of other modes of thinking are just cyclic occurrences. As our political and economic systems fail us, we reach back for other things that we know to work in hard times. No change results in a linear outcome, and a move too far results in a move the other direction.

    1. About two years ago, I opted for a default position of excitement, optimism and positivity about the future of humanity this century. Not because the evidence really recommends it, but because it is the most effective mindset to achieve change for the better. So, to a point I share your optimism.

      I also have some responsibility to understand and teach about climate change and sustainability based on good information, evidence and data, including understanding the challenges we have overcome in the past.

      There is, unfortunately, something very different about the convergence of pressures we are facing right now, and just how badly we are collectively responding. The topping out of population is good news. But this still means 2.5 bn more people than right now, at the same time as the climate changes we seem determined to lock into place start to seriously bite. Corey’s article has its place, most definitely.

      The full throttle embrace of nuclear energy is our fist and most important step. I do agree.

  2. I also told Holly about climate change when she was around five. It’s that sort of age where they are becoming more aware of the broader concerns of their family and friends. I mean, what do you do when your child asks you a forthright question like “What’s climate change”? I didn’t want to lie to her, but I did make sure I ended the conversation with the reassurance that we have the where-with-all, the knowledge and technology, to stop the problem before it gets to far. No-one, least of all five year olds, are very good at dealing with problems that have no solution, but give my kid a path for action and she’s on to it.

  3. I don’t see happy times ahead. There are 7 billion of us using 15 terawatts of power, with say 12 TW of that from burning fossil fuel. With 9 billion people we might want a more equitable but efficient 20 TW with only say 5 TW of that from fossil fuel. Think of that gap as 15,000 gigawatt sized Gen 3 plants world wide. Given the difficulties of securing simple gas facilities in the Algerian desert that seems like a stretch.

    The only way we’ll cope is by changing the goalposts as to what represents ‘success’. Economic growth defined by ever increasing GDP will need a rethink because outside of Asia (and that for a while only) it’s not going to happen. Today’s kids perhaps should not expect permanent jobs, owning their homes or having a private car. We will fail kids if we create expectations that the future can be as indulgent as the present.

    1. When my daughter first started school the teacher asked each child to write down what they dreamed of being when they grew-up. Holly said she wanted to be a mermaid…

      Did the utter impossibility of this dream lead me to lecture her over what she should or should not expect from her future. Nah, I knew she’d work that out soon enough. And she did.

      As time passes and our children’s understanding of the world grows, the potential in their future will reveal itself to them. It’s not our place to wag our finger at them and tell them to lower their expectations, it is our place to do all we can to offer them the brightest future possible.

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