Neil deGrasse Tyson: Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than Our Ability To Respond

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Is it now already too late to adequately respond to or prevent extreme anthropogenic climate change? That possibility was noted by the noted public figure Neil deGrasse Tyson in a recent interview with Fareed Zakaria.

Interestingly, deGrasse Tyson made reference to the “surprising” reality that the destruction and/or abandonment of many of the world’s largest cities would be extremely debilitating economically. And their destruction seems inevitable.

The reality is that if major deep sea seaports are sunk or become impractical to use, trade and shipping will become far more expensive — which will be an enormous problem in today’s intricate just-on-time food and trade systems.

DeGrasse Tyson comments: “I worry that we might not be able to recover from this because all our greatest cities are on the oceans and water’s edges, historically for commerce and transportation.”

“And as storms kick in, as water levels rise, they are the first to go,” he stated. “And we don’t have a system — we don’t have a civilization with the capacity to pick up a city and move it inland 20 miles. That’s — this is happening faster than our ability to respond. That could have huge economic consequences.”

CNN provides more: “Tyson told Zakaria that he believed that the longer the delay when it comes to responding to the ongoing threat of climate change, the bleaker the outcome. And perhaps, he hazarded, it was already even too late.”

There was an interesting exchange relating to the recent hurricanes that seems worth highlighting here as well:

“In an interview on CNN’s ‘GPS,’ Tyson got emotional when Fareed Zakaria asked what he made of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert’s refusal to say whether climate change had been a factor in Hurricanes Harvey or Irma’s strength — despite scientific evidence pointing to the fact that it had made the storms more destructive.

“‘Fifty inches of rain in Houston!’ Tyson exclaimed, adding, ‘This is a shot across our bow, a hurricane the width of Florida going up the center of Florida!’

“… Tyson said he was gravely concerned that by engaging in debates over the existence of climate change, as opposed to discussions on how best to tackle it, the country was wasting valuable time and resources.

“‘The day two politicians are arguing about whether science is true, it means nothing gets done. Nothing,’ he said. ‘It’s the beginning of the end of an informed democracy, as I’ve said many times. What I’d rather happen is you recognize what is scientifically truth, then you have your political debate.'”

There are probably a lot of people who would prefer that, but to truly do so would mean to acknowledge that the lifestyles of the last hundred or so years aren’t going to last much longer. The reality is that effective action to prevent extreme anthropogenic climate change would require a fundamental restructuring of the world’s cultural, economic, political, and agricultural systems. For that to happen, there is a vast amount of inertia in the aforementioned systems that will have to be overcome first. …

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James Ayre

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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