Why the Year 2050 is So Meaningless

8 Nov

I attended a lecture last night by an instructor at one of the most prestigious and expensive art and design colleges in the nation. In the course of his talk he lamented the lack of prior decent education of most of his American students and that Asian and European kids were much better prepared. He is an instructor of some renown on the environment and was telling us how dire the future looks if we earthlings continue our careless ways.

One thing, among the countless recitations of degradations already in place and about to occur if our attitudes and destructive practices don’t soon change, was the citing of certain dates agreed upon as major mileposts in our eventual downfall. This lecture represented the curriculum currently being used at the college and his constituents are for the most part, twenty year olds.

The lecture audience, however, consisted of folks about my age, I’m 85, who are decently educated and concerned about the future of the planet. That being said, I felt then as I do now, that the presentation of such arcane data as what will probably occur by the year 2050 is as meaningless to us oldsters as it is to a college age crowd!  Yet this is Standard Operating Procedure in media and apparently in academe as well.

These are vital issues and deserve the best explanation and presentation of which we are capable. How much more effective would it be with our group or with the youngsters if this vital topic was presented as an immediate threat rather than a meaningless postponement to a vague and distant future? If instead, the peril facing us was explained in inches of water rather than decades of time.

All of us have recently lived through the Superstorm, Hurricane Sandy, that created so much havoc and devastation in New Jersey and New York. We remember the graphic scenes of the doomed roller coaster on the pier at Seaside Heights and all the ruined houses along the coast.  We were told, but apparently didn’t grasp the significance, of the fact that one or two additional inches of seawater from glacial melt was the ingredient that caused this storm to be so damaging.

We, as well as the college students, would be much more attentive and involved if instead of deferral  to year 2050, we were told of those zillion or so tons of extra seawater the oceans now hold which threaten to destroy us the very next time conditions are just right.  A mere one or two inches we are told was the culprit and with some clever math we could predict the exact day in 2017 when another inch will be added. Then we can, young. old and in between, perhaps relate and react timely to the imminent threat we all face..

Our future measured by the inch and by the day makes more sense to me than 2050.








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