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Published on June 22nd, 2017 | by James Ayre


Inhabitants Of Sinking Islands In Atlantic Don’t Believe In Climate Change — That About Sums It Up…

June 22nd, 2017 by  

While it’s become something of an assumed truth for some that, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate change begin bearing down on the “developed” world in earnest, those who currently deny the existence of climate change will come around. … I remain highly skeptical.

Screen Shot capture or photo by James Balog for The Human Element.

What seems more likely is that people will stick with what they know, with what those around them who they consider to be their peers “know,” and if there are problems, well, then there’s usually someone who can be found to be blamed. You see that sort of pattern play out in nearly every part and aspect of the human world nowadays — identity, inertia, and entertainment first; actual thinking and an open awareness second (or probably more accurately, not at all).

And, yeah, I don’t think that’s there’s much of a difference between the two supposed political parties in the US in that regard at this point. Getting most people to think or have an actual conversation about a subject or about policy seems to be less and less possible by the year. But if you don’t want to think about what I’m saying, then I guess that labeling me as a right-wing propagandists works as well. 🙂

With regard to belief in climate change, I came across an article in Scientific American the other day that was pretty interesting. It’s about some of the small islands along the Atlantic Coast of the US that are slowly disappearing as a result of rising seas and erosion .. islands where many of the inhabitants don’t actually believe in climate change.

Well I guess that I should make this clear up front, just so that there’s no confusion: many of the people there don’t admit to believing in climate change. That is not quite the same thing as not believing in it, as there are no doubt good financial reasons to not publicly admit that everything you own is going to literally be under water in 20–50 years or so.

The article in question focuses mostly on Deal Island, but also made mention of Tangier Island, where the mayor recently received a highly publicized call from President Donald Trump that reportedly amounted to the two of them saying that climate change wasn’t a problem and that the island would be around for a long time to come … because it’s been around for a long time. Solid logic. (Many researchers are giving the island ~20-30 years of further habitability.)

Here are some of the “highlights” of the article: “Deal Island is on the front lines of climate change. Even under the rosiest scenarios, in which sea levels rise only 2 feet by 2100, much of the island will be underwater in a few generations. Rising global temperatures are expected to wipe out businesses, marinas and homes.

“Still, climate change isn’t a popular phrase here. Many of those whose families have scraped out a living, largely through the bay’s bounty of crabs and oysters, attribute the retreating ground to erosion, or ‘land loss.’

“‘Some of the arguments are a little silly,’ said Stephen White, a longtime resident of the region. ‘We have climate change four times a year. I’m concerned about erosion.’ …

“One of the vanished islands belonged to White, a former Methodist minister who tried for decades to save Holland Island, which was once 3 miles long and home to about 400. But humans can only hold angry waves at bay for so long. And in 2010, the last remaining part of the island lost a house that was built around 1890. It was swallowed by the sea, and Holland Island became part of the Chesapeake Bay.

“Still, White is unconvinced that climate change is a culprit. He spoke of Holland Island in hushed tones, perhaps reserved for the death of a loved one. Like many on Deal Island, he frets about land loss but doesn’t think the ocean is rising.

“White spoke to a reporter amid the boarded-up ruins of his next project—preserving the remains of a Civil War-era church. White, 86, stood among graves dug and capped with concrete in a drier time that are now collapsing into the salty broth of the marsh, revealing glimpses of skeletal remains inside. White believes it’s the result of natural erosion.”

As noted by the University of Maryland anthropologist Michael Paolisso, who has worked with residents of Deal Island for the last 20 years, when there’s pushback from residents, it’s often the case that: “Where they resist the most is when science comes in and monopolizes the discourse on it and makes some projections about what the future is going to look like for them, and those projections have real-life implications for them.”

That’s generally the case, isn’t it? People have ideas about where things are supposed to go, about what is supposed to happen, about who is supposed to do what — a grand story where everyone and everything plays the parts assigned to them by the culture/community in question. And they don’t like people or events coming in and contradicting this story. They’ll fight, and kill, and lie, and scapegoat, and keep themselves drugged constantly, and play victim, all to avoid letting the story go.

Personally, I’d say that this seems to apply to most of those who “believe” in climate change as well, not just those who outright deny it. Anthropogenic climate change is rapidly approaching the point where the “anthropogenic” part of the name has no meaning — where whatever control people claim to have over the situation evaporates completely, and all that’s left is an avalanche of uncontrollable and hard-to-comprehend feedback loops … and yet, people who “believe” in climate change continue to live their lives in much the same way as people who don’t believe in it do. Purely judging the behavior of climate change deniers against the behavior of believers with regard to carbon footprint could you tell the difference, right? How many climate change believers actually have a lower overall carbon footprint than the average denier?

I bring this up because as of late many people seem to be going off into La La Land and doing their best to not notice what’s happening. Serious impacts relating to agricultural productivity, water scarcity, rising sea levels, and extreme weather will begin hitting in earnest within just the next 10–20 years, and the best that most people seem to be willing to manage is to look up from their smartphones for a couple of minutes with a glazed-over look on their eyes.

Anyway, brace for impact — serious action is no guarantee.


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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