I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth. Here is Part 1 of the interview, stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.
Brendan DeMelle (BD): Your book is about the impacts of climate change far into the future, and as you point out, that means very far into the future, not a 5-year plan that seems far away in the lifespan of a human, but thousands, millions and billions of years from now. What advice do you have for people who struggle to comprehend the time scale of these impacts? How can people alive today attempt to relate to the deep future?
Curt Stager (CS): We live our lives on short time scales, in which even the end of the work day can seem like “forever” in the future, and we rarely deal with extremely large numbers or quantities on an immediate personal level. As a result, facing a legacy of climatic effects that stretches many thousands of years into the future can be mind-boggling, even for a scientist. But that’s actually one of the important points to recognize in this amazing story; our ecological impacts on the planet are mind-boggling in scope.
We can become more comfortable in handling large sweeps of time with practice, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to grasp exactly what 100,000 years means in order to understand that the changes we’re setting in motion today are far larger than we once thought, any more than it’s necessary to know the exact weight of a bull elephant in order to realize that you’d better not mess with it.
Mark Jaccard is professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University.
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