Mary A Moore
If the year of 2012 was the year of change, then nothing much seemed to be visibly changing for much of the year. The US elections were a never ending source of headlines that saw at the end the incumbent re-elected, the middle east remained embroiled in ongoing turmoil, the Eurozone still went from each economic crisis to corresponding bailout, and the job market continued in it’s struggles to recover. Most of us did not see the real drastic changes that were actually happening until the end of the year.
Most notable for our planet, 2012 saw the largest ice melt of Arctic ice ever recorded. Some 11.83 million square kilometers of Arctic ice melted between March and September 2012 according to the World Meteorological Organization. Warm spells during March 2012 resulted in many record-breaking temperatures in Europe and nearly 15,000 new daily records across the USA. The weather became extreme with heat waves, tornadoes droughts, floods and extreme cold. By the end of the year even the US election campaign had been significantly affected by weather. The Democratic convention moved to an indoor arena, the Republican convention in Tampa was affected, and even the actual elections were impacted by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast where it struck major urban areas in New Jersey and New York. ‘Climate change’ had not even been a major issue during the campaign which focused on economic issues. It is not what we like to think about, for better or worse.
We have always viewed iconic storms like Katrina or Andrew, as random events. Sandy was the first storm that was ‘climate change’ for our collective humanity, and it did not even rank as a hurricane when it landed. When we get a few more ‘climate change’ storms we will at some turning point, come to grips with the changes that have happened while we weren’t looking, often in places we weren’t expecting. The Arctic has been our canary in the coal mine, but it is not a place we see in our everyday lives. Things like the Arctic dipole are influencing what we see now in our everyday lives. Recognizable climate change has started one of the megatrends that will be with us for a time. Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin wrote in the late nineties about the ‘sixth extinction’ that was underway. It is about the loss of species that has been happening now at such a pace that it is an ‘event’, and the role humans have come to play. The ironic part is that we as human’s will also be contributory the die-off of our own species. The die off has now begun with the marginalized members of our society and others, being pushed to the limits of their ability to survive and adapt. It is a megatrend that has just emerged, and will likely be around for quite some time. They are familiar with this struggle in some ways. It is just that the struggles and changes required have become as great as their abilities, and will exceed them with demands like surviving without housing, or power, or heat, such as that which has happened with the roughly 16,000 people without power even a month after Sandy. When storms devastate an area, such as what Katrina did to Biloxi Mississippi, it can take close to a decade for the impact area to come back. It happens that way in many other countries of the world, we just do not expect to see in our countries.
In reviewing the themes that captured our minds, the New York Times Best Sellers for 2012 represented politics, power, death, and mystery. There was a fixation with major political assassinations whether Lincoln, Kennedy, or Osama Bin Ladin, all of whom represented turning points in large social movements. We had searched for the greatness in our world that we had wanted to grasp, but which eluded us. We wanted to know how it has been done and read about how Jefferson and Lincoln had finessed political power. It was as if something important was gone, and we looked to get it back. We tried to solve the mysteries we read.
The year 2013 represents a time that as a collective group we have the ability to create a global discussion about the changes and challenges facing us, just it is not likely to happen for altogether common reasons. Denial allows us to explore alternative explanations, and slowly adapt to what may be an uncomfortable truth, if not an inconvenient truth. Geo-engineering experiments have begun, as some look to ways to shift our odds. We are geo-engineering our food, our environment, and even our own genomes. Most of it in random attempts to achieve some degree of control over our world.
While some of us tremble in fear of the mythology of Mayans predicting the end of the world in 2012,and others arguing it marks a transition point, it is notable that archaeologists today generally believe that a combination of elements brought about the collapse of the Mayan empire, likely severe drought and deforestation. The great disruptions that climate change has the potential to unleash, have usually brought great social change often in the form of collapse. We can only hope that 2013 is our lucky year when we begin to cooperate and communicate about more pressing issues, than a past which will not come back to us no matter how hard we look.
- Scientists to reveal full extent of Arctic ice loss amid climate change fears (guardian.co.uk)
- Special Report: IPCC, assessing climate risks, consistently underestimates. (wwwp.dailyclimate.org)
- Accelerated Warming Driving Arctic Into New Volatile State (climatecentral.org)
- Arctic Report Card: Dark Times Ahead (scientificamerican.com)
- Less Arctic Ice–>Less Sunlight Reflected Back–>Even Less Arctic Ice (motherjones.com)
- Global warming breaking records in the Arctic say scientists (indybay.org)
- Arctic lost record snow and ice last year as data shows changing climate (guardian.co.uk)
- Climate is ‘Changing before our Eyes’ Says World Meteorological Organization (insurancejournal.com)