We're Living the Past's Climate Change Future

Humanity is rapidly normalizing the effects of climate change
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2017 5:50 PM CDT
We're Living the Past's Climate Change Future
Surfers on a beach near the NRG El Segundo power plant in California. A recent study predicts 31% to 67% of Southern California beaches could completely erode back to coastal infrastructure or sea cliffs by the year 2100, with sea-level rises of 3.3 feet to 6.5 feet.   (AP Photo/John Antczak)

A lot of people—optimists, maybe—believe there's a line in the sand when it comes to the effects of climate change that will force society to take action when it's crossed. But, as is the case with many things in life, that line recedes the closer you get to it, the New York Times reports in an existential and eye-opening look at climate change and the future of humanity. Here's the secret of climate change: We're already living in it. The future people who dwell in our apocalyptic vision of a world ravaged by climate change probably won't realize it either. The future "will very likely feel as authentic, and only as horrific," to the people living in it "as our moment does to us."

There's a thing called "environmental generational amnesia." It means every generation only accepts ecological changes they can see in their own lifetime. It's the reason only one-third of children living in highly polluted areas around Houston think they live in pollution. It also allows us to normalize things that would seem dystopian to a previous generation. Like when Siberian permafrost recently melted and released a long-frozen strain of anthrax, sickening dozens. Or why the quadrupled amount of flooding in Washington DC over the past 50-some years is quaintly referred to as "nuisance flooding" by authorities. Humans can adapt to climate change—we can "normalize" individual disasters—but we'll be sacrificing quality of life to do so. And we might not even realize it. Read the full piece here. (More climate change stories.)

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