Clearly human-atmosphere interrelationships are not simple, and both the well being of people and condition of the indoor and outdoor atmospheric environment, are parts of a multifaceted system that need to be viewed (a) holistically, (b) in terms of probabilities and (c) specific time horizons for (d) particular locations. Over-deterministic expressions of human responses, fail to recognize the power of human perceptions, and their adaptability as the basis for sustainable choices and rational control decisions. At the same time, it is essential that we recognize the imperatives of our biological human legacy.
At any stage of development, human ability for maximum energy generation or production of food, even if in a seemingly sustainable way, does not necessarily indicate an optimum condition for survivability. The possible resulting build-up of populations, or even of expectation of resource availability, may with change create instability in the "fitness" of individuals or groups to survive. That is, what may be regarded as successful adaptation at a particular time and location may prove to be unsustainable maladaptation in the longer term. Paradoxically, the currently prevailing global warming paradigm is an attestation of faith in human free will. If climate change is anthropogenic, then humans can claim superiority over the forces of Gaia. If by deliberate reductions of radiative gases we can halt our own runaway climate change juggernaut, our superiority will have been triumphant once more. The rub is that we cannot be certain that our consensus belief in a dominant anthro-pocentric paradigm, and our abilities to adapt, may be no more than a placebo that eventually proves to be an expensive maladaptation.
The suggested integrative model illustrates the complexity of the adaptation system at different levels of human organization. Nowadays, there can be no definition of climatic determinism in simple terms of causality. As before, there remain deterministic nodes, especially within the first level, and indeterministic ones, especially at the third level of decision-making and management. Here, most relationships can be regarded as probabilistic, and ones that are particularly sensitive to cultural preference, resource availability and socio-economic capacity. At the largest temporal and spatial scales, beyond the medium range time horizon, the prediction of the human condition and adaptation measures become increasingly less reliable.
Deliberations on determinism and predictability versus free-will become even more complicated within the new consensus paradigm that also carries implications of active involvement by the scientist in adaptation as dependent upon political, social and economic decision making. The notion of activist "concerned scientists" is at least a superficially attractive response, but extending scientific advice to include lobbying for intervention with major climate controls (see Kerr 2007) seems to carry responsibilities beyond the scientific mandate. We may require yet again another re-examination of what constitutes validity and reliability within the present issue.
Stepping back from such largely semantic issues, no responsible scientist will pretend to know beyond some testable probability that potentially dominant and naturally occurring hazard singularities within solar emissions or tectonic events will not occur. In any case, the present-day era of Holocene warmth appears to have reached the usually expected twelfth to thirteenth century long span: there is no method available, beyond trend extrapolation, to forecast future solar developments within the historical time frame. The Milankovitch (1941) solar radiation cycles will sooner or later lead to global cooling.
There is little certainty in the prediction of natural climate change, its impacts and long term human responses per se. No matter what the personal conviction of the causes of global warming, advocacy of single purpose adaptation to a warmer world cannot be supported. Scientific responsibility is not a matter of loyalty to a consensus paradigm, but to objectivity that points towards uncertainty and the possibility of climate change trends either towards net warming or cooling. Recommendations for survival strategies should give preference to flexible measures that encourage adaptability to change, rather than adaptation specifically to a warmer world. The success or otherwise of present-day philosophies will only be tested with time, but survivability will be enhanced in the adaptable, not the adapted.
Was this article helpful?
Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.