Opinion: Humanity must think and act globally to solve the looming climate crisis

A flock of sandpipers flies around the Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve. Photo by Chris Stone

Humans have shown seemingly unlimited innovation capacity. We have tamed fire, mastered flight, mapped our own genome and invented the wheel, the telescope and the internet. So why are we so deficient, so incapable of tackling the climate crisis, the greatest existential threat we have ever faced?

It is not because we have lost the ability to innovate. Wise minds, for example, have recently figured out how to make cotton garments that are made to act as and replace petroleum-derived polyester synthetics that pollute our air, water, food and bodies with non-biodegradable plastic microfibers.

Nor is it because we do not know what it takes to prevent climate disasters: Stop dumping carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

So what is the root of humanity’s incompetence when it comes to solving the climate crisis?

For a while, it was easy to invoke the “slow-boiling” explanation that climate change is such a slowly evolving threat that humans behave like the frog thrown into a cool pot of heated water, so gradually that the frog does not notice that it is being cooked alive. This explanation is certainly no longer credible given that virtually all regions of the world are experiencing increasingly frequent, record-breaking climate extremes such as forest fires, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

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