Wednesday, January 9, 2019

President’s Address Met with Criticism

United States President Larson discussed the global state of emergency last night in her first national address of the year. She emphasized that she will focus government effort on identifying and stopping natural feedbacks that could cause uncontrollable collapse of ecosystems around the world and lead to humanity’s extinction within twenty years. Regarding the main approaches recommended by the international community, she said, “Regulation of people’s reproductive and economic choices runs counter to what we stand for as a country, so we reject it as a strategy and will seek out ways to reduce impact on overstressed ecosystems that are aligned with our values.” Additionally, she ordered all departments to create or update plans for coping with effects of ecosystem collapse if it cannot be stopped.

In a rebuttal following the speech, House Speaker Randy Despaccio criticized the president for being ignorant of history and arbitrarily ruling out effective means for confronting the emergency. He angrily disputed what he called “the utter, incredibly, nonsensical notion that collapse on a global scale is survivable.” Despaccio pledged to devote House resources as fully as possible toward debating all options and creating draft legislation that embodied the results. Senate Leader Ronda Canon was unavailable for comment about whether she would take a similar stance.

“They’re acting like this is a surprise,” Science and Policy Ambassador Samantha Lazlo said during an interview from the conference hall that serves as the hub for strategy integration three blocks from WICO headquarters in London. “Potential options have been explored in detail, with reports exchanged among all parties on a bi-weekly basis, concurrent with the biosphere assessment, over the past two years. In my country and others there should already be plans in place that just need a little tweaking. Those of us who have studied this feel like astronomers who have refined the orbit of a planet-killing asteroid to the point of certainty that it will hit soon, have developed weapons to at least partly deflect it if we’re very lucky, and now must endure the possibility that our efforts were wasted because other people don’t care enough to do more than debate the threat.”

Reality Check

The threat – and reality – of ecosystem collapse and its causes have been known for decades in our world. Solutions have been both proposed and deployed, but not within the scope or at the scale needed to stop it. That “scope” includes all extinction drivers, not just pollution-driven climate change. Government support has been intermittent and unreliable, as recent experience in the U.S. has proven, with resulting delays in leaders and organizations getting up to speed if they so choose and have not been disabled by others from doing so. 

In the simulated world there two general options being considered. One of them is to ignore the threat and make no changes to business-as-usual. Another is to reduce humanity’s ecological impact by one of three means (one of which being the “baseline strategy”). Each option is subject to the possibility of sustained global warming within a range of magnitude and acceleration which acts as another source of ecological impact. Humanity can currently only change its own behavior, which is the essence of the strategies being considered.

Samantha Lazlo’s feelings at the end of her interview reflect my own and those of many people I know (and know of) in a similar position to hers.

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