AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT?

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Make no mistake about it, folks, climate change is caused by human endeavors, and it’s an existential threat. What’s at stake is whether we have a future at all.

—Joseph Biden

That’s quite a statement, isn’t it?

For the most part, I agree with the vice president. “Climate change is caused by human endeavor,” and it is “an existential threat.” But I would add a phrase to his final sentence and say: What’s at stake is whether civilization as we know it has a future at all. I would make that change because I’m confident that whatever socio-ecological catastrophes climate change inflicts (or, perhaps I should say, whatever socio-ecological catastrophes we inflict upon ourselves by carelessly emitting greenhouse-gases), some people will survive. Humans are remarkably inventive and adaptable, after all. So, no, I don’t wonder whether we have a future. The question that keeps me up at night is: How dystopian will the future be?

If given a chance, I would ask Vice President Biden and anyone else who agrees with him: If climate change is an existential threat, shouldn’t everyone be mobilized to respond to that threat? Does it make sense to wait and hope green technologies, once they’re widely deployed, will save us?

I probably don’t need to tell you that my answer is: No. Climate change is happening now. Every day, we pump more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and, every day, we set in motion problems that we’ll find, over time, we’re unable to undo.

If climate change truly is an existential threat, we need to act as if it is, which means it’s time for all hands on deck.

We need to act now—as individuals—to reduce our emissions.

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