Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

In a just-posted N.Y. Times piece called “The Flood Next Time,” Justin Gillis reports the following: “The evidence suggests that the sea-level rise has probably accelerated, to about a foot a century, and scientists think it will accelerate still more. The official stance of the world’s climate scientists is that the global sea level could rise as much as three feet by the end of this century, if emissions continue at a rapid pace. Some scientific evidence supports even higher numbers, five feet and beyond in the worst case. Scientists say the East Coast will be hit harder for many reasons, but among the most important is that even as the seawater rises, the land in this part of the world is sinking.”

What are the responses, for the most part? (1) “Talk to China and India — not us”; (2) “Yes, sea levels are rising and the East Coast will definitely be in trouble down the road. But these conditions won’t affect us or our kids — they will affect our grandkids and great-grandkids”; (3) “Yes, we should all be riding bicycles and driving hybrids and generally reducing our carbon footprint, but a lot of people — politicians, movie stars and their ‘people,’ women and especially mothers — feel safe when they ride around in SUVs, especially during the Sundance Film Festival, so what are ya gonna do?”

I know this: never before in the history of our species have educated people of power and influence blithely shrugged en masse and admitted that advanced cultures are slowly drowning the earth — i.e., that the earth’s ecosystem is gradually being overwhelmed by industry, and that this will lead to sea water gradually engulfing the low-lying areas of the United States and causing all kinds of havoc, probably less than 100 years from now. No other culture has ever been confronted with this situation before, and the main reason this catastrophe is more or less assured is that people are determined to enrich themselves as much as possible before dealing with the climate. Money and comfort above all! This basically means adopting a myopic attitude and delaying decisions ad infinitum.

  • Mr. F.

    “Never before in the history of our species have educated people of power and influence blithely shrugged en masse and admitted that advanced cultures are slowly drowning the earth…”

    “Educated people” are, when you get right down to it: people. And what do people do, “en masse,” when threatened with the prospect of cataclysmic change? They either ignore it or take solace in the fact that when that long-term catastrophe eventually strikes, they’ll have long been dead and buried. But until it becomes a problem that directly affects *them*, in the present? It’s not actually a problem.

    It’s “I’ve got more important (or immediate, if you prefer) things to worry about” syndrome. And, as much as it pains me to admit it: you can’t blame them.

  • brenkilco

    I know this: never before in the history of our species have educated people of power and influence blithely shrugged en masse and admitted that advanced cultures are slowly drowning the earth — i.e., that the earth’s ecosystem is gradually being overwhelmed by industry

    Perhaps, but there’s certainly nothing new about mass human short sightedness. One example:

    “Europeans had lived in the midst of vast forests throughout the earlier medieval centuries. After 1250 they became so skilled at deforestation that by 1500 they were running short of wood for heating and cooking. They were faced with a nutritional decline because of the elimination of the generous supply of wild game that had inhabited the now-disappearing forests, which throughout medieval times had provided the staple of their carnivorous high-protein diet. By 1500 Europe was on the edge of a fuel and nutritional disaster [from] which it was saved in the sixteenth century only by the burning of soft coal and the cultivation of potatoes and maize.”

    From the Wikipedia article on deforestation.

    The more things change…..

  • Zach

    The prospect of mustering the entire civilized world to a) agree on what’s occurring, b) decide on a practical solution, and c) implement that solution, is absurd beyond words. It’s going to take a global cataclysm just to satisfy a) (and even then… the religious, etc.), and a mass altruistic commitment unparalleled in human history to satisfy b). And even if a) and b) are satisfied, haven’t most climate scientists already agreed that we’re past the tipping point? I’d say it’s more a feeling of utter helplessness than it is shortsightedness.

    • Mr. F.

      “haven’t most climate scientists already agreed that we’re past the tipping point? I’d say it’s more a feeling of utter helplessness than it is shortsightedness.”

      Some scientists have said that, but I think the bigger answer is that most people aren’t hearing that… and even if they do, they default to the standard “Well, it doesn’t seem to be affecting ME” reasoning.

  • GigglesForGigli

    But the whole world will be marrying their OSs in 20 years time, leading to no new kids, leading to a shrinking population, leading to no pollution, leading to receding waters, leading to problem solved.

    • Aaron Paul’s Tuxedo

      And if we do want kids we can just have them in the Matrix.

  • Correcting Jeff

    I know this: you are just as guilty as any of those you lecture. And barring your imminent adoption of a hunter-gatherer subsistence lifestyle, you will continue to be so.

    There is no way to stop modernity. To even attempt to do so would lead to misery greater by orders of magnitude than anything wrought by the worst predictions of climate change. The developed world would survive, but the developing world would be condemned to death. And the only way to enforce such misery would be at the tyrannical point of a gun.

    If the catastrophic projections of climate change are true, the solutions won’t come from mandating that Americans trade in their SUVs for electric cars, forcing Germans to shutter nuclear plants in favor of windmills that don’t spin, or condemning two billion Chinese and Indians to starve and freeze. The solutions will come from technologies that allow everyone to *adapt* to the changing world, in the same way humanity has always found a way to adapt.

    When men first got cold, they built fires. When the fires ran out of wood, they burned whale blubber. When the whales ran out, they burned coal. When the coal got too dirty, they burned oil and gas. When the oil and gas run out, we’ll split uranium and, someday, fuse helium, and never run out of energy again.

    But at no point will humanity choose to be cold, choose to starve, or choose to be poor when others are rich. To believe otherwise is to deny our common humanity.

    I have no idea if the seas will rise (and neither do the scientists, either– projections based on models are just that, projections). I *do know*, however, that we won’t drown, just as we haven’t froze, starved, or died of thirst, either.

  • LittleLeadmen

    Do you even bother to read the actual document you linked to, or for that matter, any of the countless studies done on estimated sea level changes? Because the document you linked to basically states the same as countless other satellite observations, which is that the sea level is rising approx 1.3-1.7mm per year, and has done so consistently since the 1870′s. (Of course, how precise those early measurements are, who knows?)

    In any event, based on that average, which has been observed by many independent studies, you’re looking at a (possible), theoretical raise of 17 cm in 100 years, or 6.76″. Hardly anything. Even if you take the robust estimate stated in your linked document, they give a high end possible of 3.2mm per year. (Which is NOT being observed any time as the average or mean around the globe- that’s 1.5). So in that worst case scenario, you’re looking at 1 foot over 100 years.

    This idea that we’re going to see 3 feet, or even 5 feet, is PURE CONJECTURE. That you’re going to then take this and demonize all of humanity for its stupidity because it’s not as enlightened or as educated as you is ridiculous. Not unexpected, but completely ridiculous nonetheless.

    Enjoy these:

    FAILURE of Computer Modelling is not the same as seeing the future.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/01/a-frank-admission-about-the-state-of-climate-modeling-by-dr-gavin-schmidt/

    Or take it from someone who actually knows, a guy who was brought in on these computer model projects:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvhipLNeda4

    • pjm

      Linking to websites that support your position is not an argument. Read ALL the scientific literature, not just the ones you choose to read. Science doesn’t work like entertainment (despite what Fox News claims) – we don’t choose the answers that we like. We keep measuring and modeling and predicting and measuring again and refining our models. That’s how science works. Climate change deniers must have missed the class in 5th grade about the scientific method.

      • Michael Gebert

        He “chose” to read the one Wells was talking about, obviously.

        Pardon me now, I have to go read The Crash of ’79 again.

    • DukeSavoy
  • Michael Gebert

    So wait, did Jeff fly to Switzerland to see a rough cut of Noah or not?

  • Brian Bouton

    As a child, I never understood how the Kryptonian Council could ignore Jor-El’s warnings but now I live in a world where it’s coming true.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eX2pRvlqJc