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Surprising Science

Will Future Generations See Our Inaction on Climate Change as a Great Immoral Act?

Will future historians condemn our present era as barbaric because our political institutions have failed to take bold steps toward halting the flow of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere?

In order to express her worries about our collective failure to act on the climate change threat, Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes turned to science fiction. Her book, “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future”, is written from the point of view of a future historian who chronicles how humans ignored many clear warnings about the adverse effects of rising temperature, resulting in The Great Collapse of 2093. The details of that collapse include “floods, droughts, mass migrations, [and] the end of humanity in Africa and Australia.”

Oreskes began her efforts by chronicling the real scientific consensus behind climate change, then was met with equal parts praise and attack from liberal and conservative camps, respectively. It’s a familiar story in what has become a very politically divided nation. After researching her opponents–mainly a group of physicists who came to prominence during the Cold War–she discovered the debate was more about economics than science: the preservation of unbridled capitalism is more about preserving democracy than saving nature. 

In his Big Think interview, Bill Nye warns climate change deniers that ignoring scientific fact will eventually prove dangerous, no matter how you slice it:

Read more at the New York Times

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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