- ‘Tis the season of giving — UAB launches holiday blood drive
- How a cybersecurity expert protects his smartphone
- ASC presents Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Dec. 15
- Leeth named UAB School of Medicine assistant dean for strategic planning
- Coping with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
- Southern Miss tops Blazers, 62-27, in season ending game
- Henry Panion selected for 2014 Alabama African-American History Calendar
- Enjoy Christmas at the Alys Dec. 2, “The Season’s First Jingle”
- Engineering’s Ning wins ASTM International award
- Collat School of Business unveils sign at celebration
Viewpoint: Long-term thinking to avoid further climate change
Despite what “evidence” detractors may concoct to the otherwise, there is a unanimous agreement in the scientific community that our planet is warming at an alarming, unprecedented, and unnatural rate. A new report released by the UN International Panel on Climate Change laid the blame squarely on ourselves. Climate scientists are now 95% confident, up from 90% in 2007 and 66% in 2001, that humans are responsible for at least half of the increasing temperatures.
What can we do? Is setting carbon emission goals, signing treaties, and supporting sustainability enough? I think not. While the current efforts to halt climate change are admirable, they only delay the inevitable – a climatological and ecological disaster on par with the mass extinction events that the Earth has experienced only six times in its entire 4.5 billion year existence.
We need instead a drastic paradigm shift in how our entire species thinks about the world and about time. We are in our current quagmire because Homosapiens are very narrow-viewed, impatient animals. We think in terms of blocks, neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries; we think in terms of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. This mode of thinking is deeply ingrained into all of our cultures: China develops its economy so it would be a superpower on par with the United States; companies try to attract talent so they can outsell their competitors; campaign speeches promise new jobs within the next four-year presidency terms; we go to fast food restaurants, expecting food within the minute.
In all of this hustle and bustle, we have lost sight of the bigger picture. Take the time one night, and look at the sky. Each pinpoint of a light is another star, billions and billions of miles away, possibly with its own planets. To the diminutive human brain, the age of these stars and the Sun is so mind-boggling huge that it is just a number. In the greatest scheme of things, we are smaller than a mote of dust, and the history of the human species is but a blip in the cosmic timeline.
It may be hard, especially when there are more pressing matters of personal and societal survival at hand, but we humans need to think bigger. Every individual needs not only think for himself or her country, but also for our species and this fragile mote of dust orbiting a small flicker of light in the galaxy. Instead of thinking of days and months or even decades and centuries, we need to think in millennia simply for the fact that we plan on existing into the distant future.
Current efforts, focused on industrial emissions, can only do so much. Our short-sightedness and insular views led us to exchange our long-term viability for some short-term gains. Without a long-term view, we cannot truly change our destructive habits as a species. It’s well near impossible that this paradigm shift could actually occur, but only when we, as a species, starts to think in terms of a planet and about our long-term future will we be able to truly avoid the impending disaster.
By Tianjiao Zhang