Letter to the editor, July 2016
I would like to thank you for your insightful article (‘Can we be optimistic about the future?’) in the June 2016 Vic Humanist newsletter. It very succinctly summarises the earth-related issues humans are contributing to and not redressing, and it really resonated with me.
When we add to this the impact of the global lack of respect for fellow humans in every sphere (religion, culture, politics, neo-conservatism, economics and growth, profiteering, corruption, security and war making, agrochemicals, media miscommunication, consumerism, etc.) and the resulting social inequities and environmental degradation within and between developed and underdeveloped countries, then the case for any ‘optimism about the future’ seems moot and the question mark in your title becomes ever more poignant. We are rapidly approaching Orwell’s 1984. What a deplorable legacy the past and our generations are leaving behind! It seems like we never learn. (I’m in the final chapters of Jared Diamond’s Collapse.)
I think the precautionary principle is the right approach to address issues with large consequences, as it is not always prudent to wait for absolute evidence before taking action on critical issues. As with anything there is need to balance risk against cost particularly when redressing these issues, as they require major disruption to our current way of doing things! Unfortunately vested interests seem to have undue impact.
The climate is seemingly changing and the human contribution is increasing. One of the things I am struggling with is getting a grip on the degree of anthropogenic contribution relative to the natural climate variation. It is very hard to find objective reporting on this, even when consulting the big organisations like UN, NASA etc. There is a huge amount of information out there on climate change/ variation (and a lot of nit-picking too) making it hard to find objective information. If you are aware of any references that could shed some light on this objectively (anthropogenic vs natural variation) I’d appreciate you letting me know. *
* Can any member help with this request? Contact VH editor.