Early this morning, I joined a hoard of honeymooners on a Delta flight to Cancun. Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t traveling to Cancun for 8 days of fun in the sun. In fact, I’d argue our collective honeymoon is already over. Don’t get me wrong: our best days can still before us, but my own personal experience has been that things typically seem to get more complicated as as your family grows and ages. And boy has our family grown.
A good portion of growth is unarguably good. Today, we live longer and more comfortably than ever: since I was born in the late 70’s, the average human lives nearly five more years; billions have been lifted out of abject poverty in China, India and across the Pacific Basin. These successes should not be discounted.
At the same time, however, we don’t have the capability to move to a bigger house with a bigger backyard for us all to play in, and its beginning to show: on nearly every continent, underground aquifers are being drawn down far quicker than they are being replenished; after decades of consistent growth, global food production has leveled off; the worlds oceans, home to species that provide 70% of the world’s population with their primary source of protein, will reach their most acidic levels in the past 50 million years by mid century. This isn’t to even mention the highest level of background extension since the end of the age of the dinosaurs. Needless to say, the kegger we’ve been throwing to celebrate our success is making a real mess of our house.
At the nexus of many of these issues is global climate change, the headache we must all now face as we wake up from our honeymoon and realize the real world is more complicated. Over the next week and a half, I’ll be posting about the things I see at the 16th UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun. Some posts may be depressing, and some uplifting, but I hope all will shed some light on fact that might sound cliché, but is unfortunately true: we’ve got one home, and it’s our only home. It’s time we started treating it that way.