If We Cannot See It, Is It Real?

A comment on my post yesterday got me thinking … why is it that so many people, some even otherwise intelligent people, either deny climate change, else seemingly just don’t care?  A recent poll asked people what their highest priorities or biggest concerns were.  The #1 answer was “the economy”.  Understandable, when people can see the prices of fuel and food rising.  Other high-ranking answers were healthcare costs, violent crime, gun violence, the federal budget deficit, immigration, jobs, etc.  You can see, often first-hand, the results of all those things.  But climate change is less visible … the effects are here to see, but they have come upon us gradually, an extra degree or two each year, a few more storms of a more destructive nature each year, but not an in-your-face-today effect like you see from the doubling in cost of a pound of coffee.

It seems to me that our immediate thoughts and concerns center around that which we can see, feel, or somehow recognize as a threat.  A gun … it’s tangible, we see the bodies strewn in a mall or a school, police and crime scene tape everywhere, and we know it’s a very real threat.  We go to the grocery store every week and see that it now costs us $125 to feed our family for a week, where it used to cost only around $85.  It’s tangible … we see it in our bank balances, or in the fact that we serve more rice and less meat.  But climate change?  Perhaps if you were affected this spring by one of the devastating tornadoes in Texas or Florida, but even then … storms happen, right?  The scientists tell us that the earth is warming and that this will bring devastating consequences for life on the planet, but the effect has been so gradual as to be barely noticeable.  So far.  All of that is about to change, but I suspect those who deny the science will continue to do so, for they are convinced that climate change is some grand hoax to shut down the fossil fuel industry, else they are so heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry that they are unwilling sacrifice a bit of profit.

It’s rather like that old saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”  Or like giving a child a choice between one cookie right now, or two after supper … he will choose immediate gratification every time!  People will choose cheaper electricity over that which comes from renewable sources if those renewable sources cost a bit more.  They will choose to have their groceries put into throwaway plastic bags rather than go to the extra ‘trouble’ of taking their own renewable canvas bags to the store.  And they will drive to the trash dumpster at the end of the street rather than carry their trash the whole 50 steps.  They will keep their lights on even when nobody is in the room, and their thermostat set at the most ideal temperature.

We’ve got a serious problem in that our lifestyle, the amenities that make our lives convenient, are destroying the planet for future generations, but since we cannot see that far into the future, it’s easy enough for us to turn a blind eye and let the next generation worry about it.  But that next generation … they are our children, the people we love most in the world.

Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  We can’t see oxygen, but we know that it is in each and every breath we take.

In a January PEW Research Center study, dealing with the environment ranked only 14th among people’s priorities, and climate change ranked 17th.  Both should be in the top five, or perhaps the top three.

When we cannot breathe the air, when there is no potable water to drink, and when food shortages mean that not only we cannot afford food, but cannot find it, I think things like the price of fuel and immigration will be the least of our worries.  Our children and grandchildren will look back and ask why we didn’t take it more seriously when we had a real chance of reversing the damage, but instead left the problems to them.

33 thoughts on “If We Cannot See It, Is It Real?

  1. I read this post yesterday; today, I ran across this AP story, that seems pertinent: https://apnews.com/article/offgrid-solar-electrification-indonesia-0991d77d68f879c4daa12e7d3dfd97ee
    I think this shows a wonderful thing that investment and research into sustainable energy can do.
    (tiny snip) “’Off-grid solar there plays an important role in that it will deliver clean electricity directly to those who are unelectrified,’ said Daniel Kurniawan, a solar policy analyst at the Institute for Essential Services Reform.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Ali, for that story!!! What a beautiful story, and it makes me realize just how lucky we are, and how much we simply take for granted! I plan to use this in a post sometime this week … thank you again, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Darwin saw evolution as a survival of the fittest, where the fittest was determined by a kind of competition. Selfishness is the trait that makes competition possible. But….for humans to actually survive into the future, competition has to go hand-in-hand with co-operation.
    Here in the West, we’ve sacrificed co-operation on the altar of individualism. Yet no individual can survive without the support of the group.
    This is no sop to communism or socialism or any other ‘ism’. It’s reality. Almost everything we rely on to make life /possible/ was invented, made, sold, and maintained by other people. Take those faceless people away, and we have no electricity, no heating, no running water, and when the looting runs out, no food.
    Without the group, 99.9% of all INDIVIDUALS would die within 2 weeks.
    For the human race to survive into the next century, we have to start valuing co-operation as much as competition.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. People tend to live in the “now.” The future is, well, the future … and they will deal with it when it arrives. Not the best way to live, of course, but as is obvious, folks are VERY slow to change.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I often we’re quite a self-centred species, and in some ways, this ancient instinct has kept the species alive (certainly back during the hunter-gatherer phase, when we had to compete with wild wolves, other predators etc), but it also hinders us so much, and we don’t even see it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh definitely … probably the single most self-centered species. It may have kept us alive while enabling us to cause the extinction of others, but I think our luck is just about to run out. Build factories, spew crap into the air, drill for oil, mine for coal, burn the oil and coal, more cars on the road, more factories, more “stuff” for people to buy, encourage people to hop on airplanes to go somewhere/anywhere, and ignore those climate scientists … what do they know, right? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe that the late Professor Albert Bartlett hit the nail firmly on the head when he said,

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

    Over the last few years, I’ve tried to come up with ways of illustrating this forceful, yet at the same time somewhat bland and seemingly harmless assertion (after all, the word ‘exponential’ is itself almost certainly a polysyllabic enigma to most). My latest effort is in my post ‘Illustrating exponential growth using movement towards a target, revisited‘.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Where I live in the east of England, coastal erosion has been causing houses to fall into the sea since 2017. Climate change can be seen on the local evening news here, but people 50 miles inland don’t care.
    Because their houses have not fallen into the sea. (Yet)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ah yes, I’ve seen some pictures of that! It will happen here, too … probably in Florida first, yet the Governor of Florida ignores it altogether … he thinks banning books is more important … grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

      Right … it hasn’t happened to them … yet. So easy to wear the blinders and see only what is right under your nose. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Those, yes, plus rising sea levels swallowing coastal areas & cities, temperatures unbearable for many, if not most, humans, and as you say, a lack of food/water/oxygen … things necessary to sustain life in any form.


  7. Whenever I hear people getting agro about some truly unimportant difference between human beings I always feel like asking, “And how do you feel about world hunger?”

    A couple of times I actually have asked this, and it produced such a cognitive split in the hearer as to bring the conversation to an absolute stop, while he or she tried and failed to see the relevance of the question to the comment they’d just made.

    There’s a large element of automatonic repetition in hate speech of any kind, I find…

    Liked by 4 people

    • I hear you! I’ve done the same … brought up that perhaps money wasted on frivolities could have been better spent feeding the hungry or housing the homeless, only to get blinking eyes and a blank look, like they wondered what planet I am from. Sadly, people close their eyes to how the majority of people in the world live!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. As I commented on a different post, I told you we have had one half-hourof rsin this spring in an area we usually get 5 inches or more. Now there are wildfires all around us, and we have been warned to prepare in case of need to evacuate.
    This is a result of climate change. And it is in my face!

    Liked by 4 people

      • Getting 5 cats into 4 carriers isn’t always easy. They see the carriers come out, they think vet, and they disappear. But last time we were 9ne of the first ones to leave town. I see no poi t in bei g different this time,if we have to go.

        Liked by 1 person

    • As someone who lives with the threat of bushfires almost every year…start to fire-proof your property now. No flammables within 10 metres of the house, fire-resistant shutters on all the doors and windows, inground water tanks if you can manage the cost, above ground if you can’t because, when a fire does go through, mains water will dry up as fire-fighting units tap into the system. You’ll also need water pumps that don’t rely on electricity as that will get switched off too.
      And last but not least, if you can afford to build an underground shelter that will hold enough air for 4 adults for 1 hour…do it. Oh, and if you have those water tanks, put roof sprinkers on your roof so the water can protect the house with you in it.
      I’ve done all of those things and more. If you do things a bit at a time, hopefully you will have a safe haven by the time a really bad fire comes through. And no, I am NOT a mad ‘survivalist’. -hugs-

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the advice, ac, but we can afford none of those things. We are both on fixed incomes, living pretty much hand-to-mouth. Were we to win the lottery (we seldom buy tickets) we could do all those things and more, but that isn’t about to happen. There are already other houses much nearer than 10 metres to our house (the town was not designed to weather wildfires). No one in town has water tanks, above ground or below ground, though that might be an excellent idea. There are firebrakes around the town since our last evacuation in 2019, when no structures in town were destroyed ut some jyst outside of town were. The prevailing winds blow mostly from the north, and there is some kind of geologicalfeature that makes the wind blow more around our town than through it.
        But we still have to cross our fingers becwuse we are surrouded by old growth forest, and the trees burn hot and fast. Hopefully we will not have to evacuate, but we will if we have to.
        Meanwhile, sorry to hear you are in the part of Australia that burns so often. Hopefully next Spring you will get adequate rain to keep the fires away, but not so much as to cause a flood.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ah, I do empathize re the money. I spent my inheritance on the house now I’m on a fixed income too. I’m glad your town has created a fire brake at least and that you’re in a fortunate position re prevailing winds etc. Best of luck and all my fingers and toes crossed for you.
          We’re heading into winter now so it’s the season in which I relax. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: If We Cannot See It, Is It Real? | Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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