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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Times of no money
April 25, 2010 - 7:55pm

Some 25 years ago, a quasi-country quartet calling themselves "The Girls Next Door" had a moderate hit with a ditty about how "love will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no love." Which is fine as far as it goes, but doesn't explain why the fool thing has been going through my head for the last week or so.

Then I did some translating. First off, I remembered all the times I was told (also about 25 years ago) that God is love. So, by substitution, the aphorism became "God will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no God." Which seems likely to be true, although I claim no particular expertise in these matters.

And then I remembered a T-shirt I saw a while back -- "I believe in God, but I spell it Nature." (Not sure whether that's a quote or not. Doesn't really matter.) Substituting again, we arrive at "Nature will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no Nature." Which seems like a pretty clear expression of the precautionary principle as applied to climate change.

After all, civilization-as-we-know-it has been through times of no money before. And survived. Ask (as appropriate) your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Ask anyone who was alive in 1930. It wasn't a lot of fun, but all of us who are here today are (or are descended from) folks who managed to get through it.

But civilization (however qualified) has never been through the sort of abrupt and extreme climatic change that seems to be occurring. The models predict swings far beyond the two degrees centigrade folks usually seem to presume; with a rise of four degrees C., the 48 contiguous states are likely to be virtually uninhabitable.

And even two degrees C. can be significant. Raise your body temperature by two C. (that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as an adult, and you're running a pretty serious fever. Lower it by the same amount and in a couple of weeks you'll probably be dead.

Either of which is probably worse than having a silly old tune running through your head. Almost certainly.

 

 

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