The stance of this work is very clear: Our present day civilization has been given the opportunity to change our actions and slow down the process of climate change, but because we are stubborn and ignorant people, we face a devastating future where the human population are close to becoming extinct. I find the approach to this topic as refreshing because of its unique point of view. I immediately noticed that the scientist who is looking towards the past to understand how his current situation came to be isn’t scared to be blunt. He often notes how the world, specifically America in most cases, could have done so much more to prevent sea levels to rise so drastically and create un-livable situations. He even notes how people wanted to be given signs that the climate was changing drastically, and yet when intense hurricanes and snowstorms and rising temperatures became apparent, they were attributed to normal fluctuations of nature (6). The scientist severely blames his current situation on the ability of past important figures to basically sit by and do nothing for the benefit of the environment.
It seems as though some of these predictions are exaggerated for the purpose of selling a story or proving a point, but it’s actually definitely possible. From 2010-20, Northern Europe is expected to see a “6 degree Fahrenheit drop in ten years,” a decrease in rainfall by about 30%, and winds “up to 15% stronger on average” (Schwartz 10). According to the same research, America is expected to have higher sea levels and drier climates, making agricultural life much more difficult to maintain. These conditions will restrict the country from keeping its international relationships in good shape and force it to focus on its internal needs (12). China is also noted to be effected by the change in monsoon season conditions; lack of rain, colder winters, and hotter summers all create decreases in energy and water, which then cause internal famines. Australia is expected to struggle with food supplies as well, though its location in the Southern Hemisphere makes its definite end result questionable (13). Oreskes and Conway take note of these predictions and respond accordingly.
The maps included in the work are extremely helpful in understanding just how much the world has physically changed. Living on Long Island originally, it was a real eye-opener to see the landmass almost non-existent on page 34 of Oreskes’ and Conway’s joint work. The authors also note how China made modifications to its way of living in order to survive the changing climates like restricting births and converting “its economy to non-carbon-based energy sources” (6). They make sure to emphasize how important it was that China made these changes despite no other country following its lead. Interestingly enough, the authors expect the human population of Australia as a whole to be completely non-existent by the year 2393 (33). To completely get rid of a whole continent and country is a large motion, but it definitely does the job of making the reader realize just how much things are going to change because of climate change. It’s also important to realize that the authors don’t give an endless list of suggestions of how circumstances could have differed; instead, they mention how the 20th century scientists and politicians had all the answers and potential solutions that they needed, the politicians were simply not concerned enough with the matter to make any substantial changes. This work is trying to tell readers that they are living in a period where change is still manageable, they just need to take the initiative to convince the people in power that this is a pressing matter that is most definitely going to make severe changes to the way everybody lives.
Schwartz, Peter, and Doug Randall. An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security. Web. Oct 2003.
Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Print.