Two shots from a lone gunman killed crown prince Ferdinand and his wife, which brought on World War I with its millions of dead.

Those kinds of consequences are neither predictable nor imaginable before they become history.

The same is true of all tipping points. When a boulder is crushed by the relentless,building pressure in a fault below the sea, as happens all the time, no one can predict in advance whether the tipping point leading to the onset of a massive earthquake and tsunami will be crossed, and virtually no one can imagine the death and destruction which that boulder’s giving way will cause.

Thus, when climatologists warn of tipping points being approached on climate change, it is trivial to be in denial, for no one can say, “There, that’s the boulder we must not crush.”

Unfortunately, knowing the danger exists is not helpful in convincing others of that danger.
Nor does knowing the danger exists give much insight into imagining the extent of the tragedy which may follow crossing the tipping point. The Leadership in Europe had no idea that the war they were willing to start in 1914 would change our entire concept of war. Just as scientists today will not embrace the idea that humanity may be on the verge of planeticide.

And knowing the future is not helpful in convincing others of your knowledge.

Would a fiery death open closed eyes? Certainly not before the topic of just what climate change might bring about as a worst case scenario is prepared for a discussion.  But how long might that take?

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3 Responses to Cassandra

  1. Hank Raymond says:

    Check out this lecture on arithmetic, population and energy. It’s about not being able to see when you’re in trouble. You’ll like it.

  2. Fred Drake says:

    Actually the leadership in Europe had a pretty good idea of the nature of the war they were risking. See “The War That Ended Peace” by Margaret MacMillan. However human nature, egos etc. always rule the day.
    A fiery death would have no impact then or now.

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