David W. Orr

David W. Orr

David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College. He is the Executive Director of the Oberlin Project - read his full bio under the "About Us" tab.

When in Doubt...

Posted by David W. Orr on July 30, 2012 in Community Voices

We've warmed the Earth by more than 0.8°C, with that much more likely on the way. A 2°C increase by 2050 is likely with absolutely no assurance that we can stop it there. Even in the early stages of climate destabilization we're now witnessing weather extremes that were not supposed to occur until mid-century or later.

There's more. Since CO2 remains in the atmosphere for a long time, we have committed posterity to centuries of rising temperatures, rising sea levels flooding coastal cities, ecological chaos, and collateral effects including famine, violence, political and economic turmoil, and psychological trauma. This is emphatically not an argument for doing nothing. On the contrary, the stark reality ahead is the best reason we have to act with the kind of urgency and creativity that we once showed in World War II and in the creation of the Marshall Plan. The picture is clear: If we humans want to hang around for a while we will have to quickly "disinvent fire" or else we'll fry. The big numbers that govern climate and Earth systems don't give a damn about Capitalism, the Dow Jones, or the American Dream. They work with no remorse whatsoever.

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David W. Orr
David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies
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