Daisyworld's WunderBlog

With Respect to Time

By: Daisyworld, 11:41 PM GMT on January 24, 2013

With the passing of yet another year on the Gregorian calendar, the resident climatologist here at Wunderground.com, Dr Richard Rood, started a new blog series where he discusses the role of time and human perceptions of time with respect to anthropogenic (manmade) global warming.

When he discusses this concept of time with regard to climate change - short and long term - it seems to me to coincide with the lifespan of an individual human being, or of only a generation or two. However, from my point of view, the problem with modern humans understanding the time aspect of climate change is a residual effect of the "me" generation. Up until a few thousand years ago (after the end of the last ice-age), the primary human lifecycle was to be born, to live, to procreate, and then eventually die. Somewhere about four to six thousand years ago, there was added to that process the need to make a name for oneself (pharaohs, Caesars, etc.). Eventually, that need trickled down to the commoner, and a few hundred years ago, the lifecycle was augmented to being born, go to school, go to college, find a career, procreate, establish a family, make a name for yourself, retire, then die. In the 21st century, this is now a packaged lifecycle; it's what's expected of each individual in the industrialized world. Due to the fact there's so much for any one person to experience within their lifetimes and the globalized concept of life, we've lost the ability to think about our own mortality. We fail to realize that this world will soon belong to the next generation, and the generation after that, and even the one after that.

Today, there are so many individuals, so many sources of person-specific stimuli, and many, many industries surrounding the concept of "me", that maybe there's an over-inflated sense of self in the world. This jaded thinking forces us into into the belief that NOW is more important than LATER.

Whenever I find myself slipping into this line of thinking about only the here and now, I try to coax my thoughts back towards the long term. I do this by thinking about The 10,000 Year Clock: A new-age project to build a monument to time; a giant mountain-side clock that ticks once a year, with a century hand that advances once every 100 years, and chimes once a millennium, designed to do so for the next 10,000 years. I try to imagine myself following the journey of that clock, staying with it over the course of ITS lifecycle, and wonder how the world will change over ITS lifespan.

What will happen to this planet over the next 10,000 years? This is a proverbial blink-of-an eye in geologic terms. With the advent of human-induced global warming, what would I see from the clock's perspective? What heights or depths will the human race come to realize? How will the rest of the biosphere ebb and flow in reaction to those realizations? What kind world would I be standing in after the globe spins on its axis, and the sun rises and sets exactly 3,652,422 times over that period?

Once in that frame of mind, I find myself wondering: What kind of world is our species about to enter?

Climate Change

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Daisyworld was one of the first climate models that effectively demonstrated that rudimentary biological feedbacks can affect the global climate.

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