Human Identity Uroboros. Credit line: Nina McCurdy
I sure wasn't expecting to hear about how the daughters of the President of the United States might offer a novel solution for incentivising the climate justice movement last month when I attended a talk on "The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World."
But I have to say I was awed and inspired beyond expectation by the presentation in the planetarium of San Francisco's Academy of Science. The presenters, Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack, who co-authored the book of the same name, shared a concept of cosmology which catapulted my nuanced worldview into a light-bending projection through baryonic matter! Recasting my image of myself into that of a highly energized and participating elementary particle in an ever-expanding universe.
A universe which, in a blink of an eye, will no longer be visible to our descendants. And, should we decide to re-connect with it, a cosmos which innately connects us with a novel response to addressing the wounds we have inflicted on this planet. (Read Darkness at the Edge of the Universe. Brian Greene. New York Times. Jan. 11, 2011)
It may seem strange that there should be a practical connection between the vastly different timescales of cosmology and our present environmental challenges, but not only is there a connection -- it is crucial that people realize this very soon. By understanding how humanity fits into the timescale of the universe, we begin to grasp what is truly at stake for our planet and for our descendants in the political and economical decisions being made today.
We have, they suggest, the opportunity to utilize cosmological concepts to work on the issues which threaten our future. (the authors)
The Malia-Sasha Horizon
"So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call."– President-Elect Barack Obama acceptance speech, November 4, 2008
The Malia-Sasha Horizon*
Projected Carbon Emissions Through 2100, and Actual Data So Far
The pessimistic red curve is business as usual (IPCC 2007 scenario A2) and the optimistic blue curve represents an aggressive reduction in carbon emissions (IPCC 2007 scenario B1). From U.S. Global Change Research Program.Source
Abrams and Primack maintain that if today's leaders -- political, cultural, religious, business -- and their supporters (which means each and every one of us) -- begin to envision the world from the perspective of the Malia-Sasha Horizon this would represent an enormous step towards expanding our consciousness of ourselves and our worldview within the 'boundlessness of cosmological time.' Still, even in the best case scenario, a scenario in which on an international scale, steps are immediately taken to address the root causes of climate change, the projected image of 2100 remains cause for alarm.
Optimistic and Pessimistic Temperature Scenarios
These correspond to the two scenarios presented in the previous figure. Images taken from U.S. Global Change Research Program
New Inertia Bg By DaRabman
"THIS STEP IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT SETS THE DIRECTION AND OVERCOMES INERTIA."
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