There is no shortage of things to worry about – rising temperatures, rising sea levels, storms, food shortages – the pressure on all resources of kinds caused by a world population that has trebled in my lifetime and will double again in the next 50 - which is like having 24 people living in the 3 bed semi that I grew up in! So why no panic?
Three reasons that I can see. One is that humans are such a successful species because they prioritize and climate change is not a threat today. So we focus on the short term and live from day to day – the future will take care of itself. In this country we compound the problem with an electoral system that rewards politicians who provide jam today and punishes those who point to the storm clouds on the horizon.
We have all grown up with predictions of impending doom – nuclear war and nuclear power, Bird Flu, AIDS, volcanic induced crop failures, tidal waves across the Atlantic. So far none have wiped us out and they all get their five minutes of fame before being replaced by something more entertaining such as the latest celebrity gossip.
Lastly, it is a fact that most of the current world leaders will be dead before climate change becomes a real everyday problem and the Houses of Parliament disappear under the Thames. Of course many of us will leave children and grandchildren to struggle on in a more hostile world but it does not exactly focus the mind if you don’t believe you are going to be around to face the problem.
So Climate Change – like waste - is a difficult subject to get the average person to take much interest in. I think that we will do best to focus on the positive aspects of Transition that lead to a world that does not squander its resources. Local production of food and durable objects, less time spent commuting, less taxes to pay for wars and the effects of deprivation – more time to build the resilient society that Transition promises. If we can achieve that then we may yet avoid the need to panic.
Population chart from US Census Office - well worth a read!