The global spread of a consumer culture is changing human perceptions of time. Traditional rituals which marked the passage of the years and linked time’s passing to production and reproduction in communities of place are declining. Instead human life is increasingly drawn into a cult of instantaneity and speed that is implicated in the increasingly ecologically destructive tendencies of a high energy, high mobility culture. Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the ways in which a high consumption civilisation is increasingly transforming the life support systems of the planet in ways that threaten its enduring support for life. The time scale in which industrial greenhouse gas emissions provokes climate change is not however instantaneous, but instead multi-decadal. This temporal lag, while it maps poorly onto contemporary experience of time and related economic measures of human welfare, maps rather better onto the longer term life-time accounting that was common in the Christian era until the consumer age.
[Cross-posted on Eerdword]
In the last few weeks three exceptionally strong storm systems have trashed whole cities in the Philippines, Sardinia, and Illinois. The greatest loss of life by far was in the Philippines, as residents there had no basements or storm-secure buildings in which to escape the devastating tidal surge provoked by the strongest storm system ever recorded by satellite. These three storms are a tragic reminder of the unequal impacts of the warming oceans and increased atmospheric water vapor associated with industrially induced climate change. But in all three cases, pundits played it safe and resisted linking the storms with human influence, and natural scientists demonstrated their reluctance to blame any single storm on increasing human influence on the weather.