Here in the UK, I have spent a lot of time trying to decide how to vote in the Referendum on our membership of the EU. Working away from home, I had to apply for a postal vote. Having sent my postal vote off, I almost immediately regretted it… For all its faults, I believe the EU has been a force for good in the battle to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption. Sadly, however, I think the EU is unlikley to survive in its current form; a probability that negates all the arguments for remaining part of it. Will this matter 100 years from now? Well, if humanity survives that long, I suspect it will. Sadly, however, that does not make the Leave or Remain choice any less of a lose-lose scenario. Therefore, I will understand fully if large numbers of people do not vote and/or spoil their ballot papers in protest. However, if all of the above is too much for you. I would heartily recommend Silent Spring Revisted by Conor Mark Jameson, as published by Bloomsbury in 2013, which they summarise as follows:
American scientist and author Rachel Carson is said to have sparked the modern day environmental movement with the publication of Silent Spring in 1962. She made vivid the prospect of life without birdsong. But has her warning been heeded? Fifty years on, Conor Mark Jameson reflects on the growth of environmentalism since Silent Spring was published. His revealing and engaging tale plots milestone events in conservation, popular culture and political history in the British Isles and beyond, tracing a path through the half century since ‘zero hour’, 1962. Around this he weaves his own observations and touching personal experiences, seeking to answer the question: what happened to the birds, and birdsong, and why does it matter?
Buried deep inside this book, on page 137 in the paperback, is this shocking quote from a Greenpeace leaflet that Jameson came across in 1987:
Planet Earth is 4.6 billion years old. If we condense this into a conceivable time-span we can liken the Earth to a person of 46 years [old]. Nothing is known about the first seven years of this person’s life, and whilst only scattered information exists about the middle 35 years, we know that only at the age of 42 did the earth begin to flower. Dinosaurs and the great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the plant was 45. Mammals arrived eight months ago; in the middle of the last week, human-like apes evolved into ape-like humans, and at the weekend the last ice age enveloped the Earth. Modern humans have been around for four hours. During the last hour we discovered agriculture. The last industrial revolution began one minute ago. During those sixty seconds, humans have made a rubbish tip of the Earth. We have caused the extinction of many hundreds of animal species, ransacked the planet for fuel and now stand gloating over this meteoric rise, on the brink of the final mass extinction. We have almost destroyed this oasis of life in the solar system.
I truly hate feeling so pessimistic and misanthropic but, when you consider what humanity has achieved in its short time at the top of the evolutionary tree, it is hard not to hope that things will work out better once we have removed ourselves from the stage. Will it matter 100 years from now? Hell, yes. That is because, as the Geological Society has warned, the palaeoclimatic record strongly sugggests that the Earth’s ecosystems could “take around 100,000 years to recover…” from the post-Industrial warming that we have initiated. http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Policy-and-Media/Press-Releases/Earths-sensitivity-to-climate-change-could-be-double-previous-estimates-say-geologists http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Geoscientist/Archive/March-2014/Climate-Change-Statement-Addendum