Super Heroes, Climate Change, and Existential Risk

At a time of great uncertainty and existential risks there are many superheroes – but we have to look for them. If you look in the corridors of power on either side of the pond you will not find them. For superheroes are not self-aggrandizing and do not put their own self interests ahead of the interests of the people in human societies who struggle for existence.

“I want to save time and labour,” Gandhi said, “not for a fraction of mankind but for all. I want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all.”

“Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions,” Gandhi continues. “Any mechanism may be misused; but if it is, the moral evil is in the man who misuses it, not in the mechanism.”

Today the mechanisms that are used are largely technological – food, water, heat, power – and affect every aspect of our economic and social lives. The future of people and the planet are dependent upon the technological ‘advances’ that are controlled by a few at the expense of the many.

What we know about these technologies and the impacts they have on human societies and the planet is largely covered up. The truth is sugar coated and fed to the people, information omitted or falsified and presented as “the news” based on “the facts”.

Climate change for example was covered up — denied, falsified, twisted, and spun — so that rich accumulators – individuals and corporations — could keep amassing vast wealth and hold onto political power. Even though they knew the existential risk — that what they were doing was exacerbating the conditions in the biosphere that make it possible for humans to live on Earth.

The cold hard truth is while the U.S. Congress is still in denial, the Pentagon is preparing for the social and well as environmental catastrophes that are caused by climate change. So where does the public — parents, teachers — who care about the children who will be most affected by climate change find the information they need to voice their concerns and plan civil actions?

Start with Twitter and find the superheroes of science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has the goods but the reports are impenetrable – definitely not a quick read. Scientists on Twitter do a much better job of presenting the information the public needs.  For example:

“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d, the glaciologist Jason Box, known as the “Ice Man”, tweeted on 29 July, 2014. There were 12,891,289 re-tweets, and almost 500,000 people favored it.

“We’re on a trajectory to an unmanageable heating scenario, and we need to get off it,” Box tells us. “We’re f’d at a certain point, right? It just becomes unmanageable. The climate dragon is being poked, and eventually the dragon becomes pissed enough to trash the place.”

“Small steps will no longer get us to where we need to go,” Box Tweets. “So we need to leap.”

Glaciologists like Nick Golledge ( @nick_golledge) and Allen Pope (@PopePolar) have been tweeting warnings on an almost daily basis for many months; and science writers like Laura Naranjo (@lknaranjo) of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA’s Sensing Our Planet have been tweeting for at least six months that the glacial lakes are ticking time bombs in Uttarakhand, India (October, 14), and that seismic signals reveal changes in water release from glaciers (October, 16).

These scientists and science writers are modern day superheroes who are using Twitter to send us unfiltered messages about what is happening to the planet, and at Garn we urge you to follow them on Twitter – read and act on their tweets.

Do not let the climate change deniers in the U.S. Congress and the pro-carbon lobby promulgate doubt with the intent to derail all thoughts we might have of the actions we can take when the future of our kids is at stake. By profligating denial of climate change, and by defunding and limiting expenditures on mitigating climate change and environmental problems, the US Congress is actively engaged in protecting the corporate interests that have supported their political campaigns, while willfully ignoring the very real and very grave threat that exists to children and to all human life on the planet.

If we are to save our kids from a bumpy ride in the 21st century it will take every last one of us working together, sharing insights, imagining ourselves differently, as we re-establish the connections  — the systemic relationships — between people and the planet.

Here’s the Iceman, glaciologist and super hero, Jason Box:



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