Disintegrated Parts

Sliding scales

Back when I was a kid this big and scary thought dawned upon me; that our supply of fossil fuels was finite. What scared me about it was the thought of a world which I would not be able to recognize. The world as I knew it at the time would cease to exist. And even though I did not appreciate the full impact of a lack of fossil fuels, I did recognize that we would no longer have our cars, and that without cars we could not sustain our lifestyle.

At the time (the 00’s) I did not yet know about the impeding climate disaster we were heading towards, but the science was already there. Over the course of my lifetime the impact of climate change had become painfully visible. From my youth - which is barely 20 years ago - I vividly remember cold winters, during which we could go out ice skating for days or weeks on an end. These occurrences became increasingly rare, up to the point now where we’re happy when we can go out on the ice for one or two days every few years. At the same time I realize I am blessed not to be impacted by more severe weather phenomena, just yet.

As I grew up my fear for running out of fossil fuels slowly but surely made way for a fear about the impeding climate disaster. Still I fear about running out of fossil fuels, but it is no longer about the impact that would have on our society. Instead it is about the impact that would have on the climate, and with that on society as well.

As this climate disaster is unraveling before our eyes a new fear started to creep up. This time it is not so much about climate change, but about the pace at which climate change is happening. At this point it feels as if we are part of a runaway system, which becomes increasingly difficult to bring back in balance if possible at all.

July the 3rd 2023 was a record breaking day, with the highest temperature on record. The day thereafter, July the 4th was another record breaking day with a measured temperature of 17.18 °C. While one can go into what this means from a scientific point of view, I am more worried about the increasing distance from these lines to the mean, and even to prior extremes.

What we consider to be an existential crisis is subject to a sliding scale. For me it started with the idea that our lives were subjected to change. Then it I became worried about the severity of the changes. Now it is about the rate of change. Between running out of fossil fuels and mitigating the climate catastrophe; change is inevitable.

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