By now you have probably seen more than a few images showing the major dust storms that covered Sydney in a deep hue of red. The images are quite remarkable, although of course they are by no means an uncommon occurrence on a global basis. What was of particular interest in this case was the fact that this was the worst dust storm to affect Sydney is over seven decades, making it a unique experience for the vast majority of Sydney’s inhabitants.
Although the storm itself is worthy of a lot of attention, I think what should become more important are discussions surrounding how this gives us a glimpse into the possible chaos and turmoil that could become far more regular in the near future. There needs to be much more media attention not just on how we can possibly avoid environmental changes, but more importantly how we are going to deal with the repercussions.
Nobody is quite sure just what the effects of climate change will be, and indeed they will be different depending on which area you are in (there are even areas around the world that some have hypothesised may benefit from climate change). The important thing to take from this is that the environmental shift that is almost certainly going to occur is literally going to change our lives completely.
I think this is something that many people do not properly consider. We are rapidly heading into an age of human existence for which there is no precedent. The global society that we have created, and the relationships and dynamics that it entails, will be so drastically altered by events that many of us alive today will see the effects of. There needs to be widespread – mainstream – understanding of the changes that are on the horizon.
Possibly the most impacting result of global climate change will come from the massive amounts of migration that will occur as massive populations need to relocate to more appropriate environments. We have enough difficulty at the moment dealing with such humanitarian situations, and by the time such movements occur every country on the planet will have its resources completely stretched.
There is a danger of isolationist policies and growing public frustration and hysteria. Education about the different possible scenarios needs to be implemented right away, so that at the very least these drastic changes do not come as a surprise. Current rhetoric is still Utopian, the focus is still on how we can avoid the problems that will soon be facing us – not how to deal with them when they do.
Much of this might sound alarmist, and there are still many people who doubt the true extent of any possible climate change (others still who doubt the human impact on any such change – which for our purposes here is actually irrelevant). However, the evidence is just too strong to ignore and we must prepare for the most likely scenarios. Beyond environmental catastrophes, even drastic changes that will be caused once we cross the peak oil threshold will lead to equally large amounts of turmoil. If the two occur simultaneously – which is a very real possibility – then the game changes completely.
I’ll certainly be looking into aspects of the huge social changes that could be just around the corner in future posts. I just really wanted to highlight the images that came out of Sydney recently. They highlight the very real and imminent changes that are about to occur, and what we saw in Sydney is of the most benign type that we can expect to deal with. I actually feel that we may have already passed the point of no-return, that these changes are coming and there isn’t much we can do to stop them from happening. So what we need to do now is start figuring out how we are going to deal with them.
Lateral thinking is needed, a future conscience must be developed that incorporates that many difficult and unprecedented decisions that will need to be made on a global level. All of us must be involved, and all of us must ensure that as individuals we have prepared ourselves so that collectively we stand a greater chance.