Hypothetical 1 – If tomorrow there’d be a major war between, say, pakistan, india and china, and several nukes would detonate over major cities the consequences would have global effects. Even small nuclear detonations and ensuing firestorms trigger nuclear winter / heat wave cycles lasting years. World wide harvests would fail and there would be major famines within months.
The next day after the first nuke detonates there would be an major international collaboration to stop this war, by all means possible. Countries would be forced to collaborate, resources would be pooled for the consequences of this event.
Hypothetical 2 – if tomorrow a terrorist cell would use information freely available on the internet and compile, with freely available medical tools, and trigger a major global pandemic, there would be an immediate global state of emergency. There would be immediate coordinated action to make sure this doesn’t happen again and we’d experience major rollback of internet access, private freedoms, et.al. In effect the next day we’d find ourselves in a perpetual state of emergency far more draconian than the one we entered in after september 11. Countries would be forced to collaborate, resources would be pooled for the consequences of this event.
Hypothetical 3 – if tomorrow we’d discover a large asteroid, say a mostly metallic NEA came hurtling in from the outer solar system, and be very certain to impact the planet within about 2 years then there would be a major response by all world governments. Everyone would chip in. There would be international bunker building, with significant redundancy (we don’t immediately know where the asteroid might strike). There would be a state of emergency with strong military and police presence everywhere. There would be laws against “frivolous” production and we’d find ourselves in a war economy. Military resources world wide would be instantaneously directed towards building several (again, redundant) projects to deflect or obliterate the object. There would be internationally coordinated space initiatives started up in weeks. Countries would be forced to collaborate, resources would be pooled for the consequences of this event.
I can go on and on with examples. In all cases it is glaringly obvious that there would be a forced collaboration, collective resources would instantaneously be nationalized, citizens would be immediately forced in to new jobs, there would be bigh-unlimited money available for this project. In effect we would enter an era of complete centralized economic control, carte blanche for some international (possibly UN) apparatus, most countries on the planet would have blue helmet activity, and ordinary citizens would no doubt see a substantial personal financial burden implemented on their lifestyle, with no possibility of appeal.
Good thing there are no terrorists with access to biological pandemic inducing pathogens, good thing international relations are relatively secure, and we have found no such asteroid yet. All is well.
Well it isn’t. Things are not well. Of course first sign of making the consequences of global emissions and heat capture, climate becoming more volatile and sea levels rising significantly and you’s paid shills, lobbyists and political radicals (especially of a freedom loving and libertarian bent) come out and protest there’s a thing such as climate change, It’s all a Chinese hoax, and even if it were, taking action would be worse and more expensive than taking the minimum required action. Why? Why is there a community of people that scream murder any time there’s the slightest hint of a discussion even starting that “we may have to do something”.
And therein lies the cruxus. The problems stems with there being no consensus possible on serious climate change action and major climate change denial is closely related to a twofold problem in the human cognitive ability…
1. we are not evolved to deal with problems beyond the next few harvest cycles (say, 5 years) and anything beyond that arouses no sense of urgency in large groups of people. People adopt a “wait and see” attitude.
2. Individual humans have very little reason to give a damn about the planet a few decades from now. By and large decisions on the planet are made by rich people or career bureaucrats. Both rich people and bureaucrats tend to be older. Consequently they don’t care much about the world 20-30 years from now. They all realize that major action on climate change would cost a lot of money and resources, and they know that if the rich and otherwise powerful would dump the bill with the lower half of society, the lower half of society would ask themselves ‘why do we need these rich people exactly?’, nationalize half or more of the money and resources owned by rich people. Rich people don’t play that.
I believe climate change is real and will be significant. I would vehemently vote for taking the required action, but since I won’t be paying for said action (I am poor) I understand my vote would mean that essentially I’d be effectively demanding that we as a global society start nationalizing the resources we need to fight climate change. And that would signify that these rich people would jump through all sorts of hysterical loops to shield their privilege from tax authorities. But, as I have made abundantly clear in above three examples, in case of a proven and universally acknowledged looming disaster of existential proportions all resources will be mobilized and no dissent will be allowed, period. And hopefully by the time the asteroid threat is abundantly evident we won’t have to hack ourselves through a generation of paid asteroid impact deniers. Hopefully we can skip that stage then.
But we are far from skipping anything right now. So we will wait, and we will wait, and we will wait, until, say Greenland slides in the ocean and global sea levels shoot up 5 meters – and half a billion people start migrating left and right (more like north and south). That’s when all hell will break loose, and a lot of people will be really angry and demand we hold the assholes accountable who got us in that mess. I believe stage one of that moment is about 50 years away at most. But it could be 20 years away. Literally speaking – twenty odd years from now Amsterdam, the city I so adore, could be all flooded and effectively uninhabitable.
There will be a conversational overton flipping point where you see climate change deniers change their tune very suddenly. At some point in the future you will see the public’s attention shift and start looking angrily at “the people getting us in this mess”. And it could get very ugly.
But what concerns me more is that the longer we wait, the more emotionally volatile the response will be. There may be immediate action required, and some countries would go through the roof (Switzerland – OF COURSE WE CAN’T RESETTLE 30 MILLION CLIMATE REFUGEES FROM WESTERN EUROPE, that sort of thing. )
So there will be extremely harsh and unforgiven top-town decissions, “do what we say, or else”. And that may friends is called “Tyranny” in laymans terms. It doesn’t matter if you are forced to take up 5 shellshocked climate change refugees of some developing nation -say, Bangladesh- in to your house on pain of immediate execution, trust me, you’ll also label it a tyranny. “Or something to that effect”.
And there you have it my friends. I think this world wide central authority, central government, dictatorship is all but certain somewhere between 2030 and 2075. That means there’s about an “optimistic” 50% chance I’ll get to enjoy the starting phase of all this – and about 75% chance I’ll see the first climate change denier hanging from some street lamp somewhere, somewhen. Let’s hope it’ll be Ben Shapiro as opposed to someone useful that could actually help solve the problems. Pardon my french here.