Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Give it to me straight, Nate Silver

So is it the apocalypse, or just time to knuckle down?

It's not the atomic bomb or a massive earthquake suspended over my head now, as it was throughout my childhood. Now it's the triple-whammy of global warming, peak oil, and economic collapse. One way or another, the whole house of cards is coming down. Some folks chuckle and say what a load of crap. They may very well be right. We got through the cold war without dropping The Big One (bomb). I got out of the San Francisco Bay Area without falling into the ocean. I think it's even been 30 years since the last time I read The Big One (quake) is definitely coming sometime in the next 30 years. Back then we were supposed to hide under our desks and keep flashlights handy.

Now it's global warming which means droughts *and* floods, water and food shortages; peak oil which means no lights, camera, action, heat or motion; and economic collapse which means "the check is in the mail" ha ha. Again, there are those who scoff. And there are those who get very earnest and pro-active. They wash and re-use their zip-lock bags. They bike to the food co-op. They stay warm with hand-knit sweaters. They use reclaimed bathwater to drench their little tomato sprouts.

I don't scoff. Maybe it's just my natural gullibility, but I think it all sounds pretty plausible. Ice caps melting, sea level rising, oceans warming, COsomethingorother increasing.... I mean I can SEE the air is bad, I know it hasn't rained for years -- air and water messed up, you messed up. Seems like fairly straightforward line of reasoning. What I question is, Is there any point to all this conserving, scrimping, saving, etc. How much longer have we really got? In addition to gullibility, I guess I have a natural fatalism too, because I figure if it's all going down the tubes, can't we just relax? Should 5th graders really do their homework? Will there even be colleges to go to?

Writing it down, its obvious that I'm CRAZY. But that is what my mind does to everything I attempt to accomplish each day. "Oh what's the use," says my defeated little mind, "we'll be back in caves in 20 years anyway."

I want some serious reassurance. Or I want to make long-term decisions that are in line with our real long-term situation. I don't want global warming denyers. That is mostly motivated by greed, near as I can figure. And the Save the Earth crews have been messaging so hard that it's REALLY BAD WE'VE GOT TO ACT NOW they've skeert me right off the checkerboard.

What I need is Nate Silver. Give it to me straight, Nate. What are our odds?

No comments: