If you’re looking for something good to watch or record on TV tonight, tune in to PBS’s ‘Journey To Planet Earth’ series for a special called ‘Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization.’ (10pm EST, or check local listings)
The program - nicely narrated by Matt Damon - is based on the book of the same name by author and environmentalist Lester Brown, and it details the impacts that climate change is having on food systems already, with troubling indications for political stability in an increasingly destabilized climate.
As Brown points out ominously, global food shortages are already causing political turmoil in several areas of the world, and as glaciers and ice caps continue to melt, the situation is sure to get much worse. Brown asserts that food shortages will pose the greatest threat to civilization out of all the negative consequences anticipated with climate disruption.
We often hear about tipping points in natural systems and how the climate could spiral out of control if we don’t act fast to eliminate global warming pollution, but there is a lot less attention paid to the political tipping points that climate change will create as well.
How many people have paused to think about what might happen if (or when) the 1.3 billion Chinese population has to compete with Americans for our grain? Or how glacial melt in South America’s Andes region and Asia’s Himalayas will impact U.S. and European food prices?
Brown points out that as long as we consider pollution ‘free’ by failing to account for the hidden costs of our energy diet, we will never grasp the full dimensions of the extraordinary challenge facing humanity - and we may fail to correct our course because of this giant blind spot.
The result could be catastrohic for the world as we know it. As Brown asks repeatedly in the piece, how many failing states can the climate crisis produce before we have a failing global civilization?
I know what you’re thinkng, but the piece isn’t all doom and gloom, honestly. In fact, Brown lays out a compelling and doable plan to steer our civilzation back from the brink of failure towards a sustainable future.
It won’t be easy, but we don’t really have much choice in the matter. And the steps needed - eradicating poverty, stabilizing population, drastically cutting pollution, and restoring earth’s systems - will all be beneficial for humanity anyway. We’ve put them off for too long as it is, and now we must achieve all four simultaneously, or else that doom and gloom will become reaility.
Tune into PBS’s “Journey To Planet Earth” tonight for this important piece.
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