Pyramidal thinking

Laundry listing could be the death of us all.

I get the impression, as a concerned citizen scanning the media, that climate change has been relegated to a mere bullet point on a numbingly long list of issues we face. Its ranking depends on whose list it is, and on some it’s absent altogether, as if the chorus of scientific alarm over global warming is but the raving of lunatics.

As a consequence, the debate over climate change tends to be lodged on a list – whether it’s on or off the list and if on, how high. Indeed, many journalists, politicians and policymakers appear to think through the handy filter otherwise known as a list.

But list-thinking paints an illusory portrait of our world. In such a warped world, the very existence of climate change is up for debate. Even some believers in climate change think this bullet point must be pushed down the list because, well, we’re busy with more pressing matters.

Here’s the rub, however: This bullet point is actually a bullet, and it’s rocketing its way toward the heart of our species’ life on our blue-green globe in the black vastness of space.

Don’t think about climate change on a list. Think about it as the base of a pyramid upon which all other “pressing” matters rest. Atop this pyramid’s foundation sit the earning of wealth, the happiness of families and the comity of nations. Cracks in the foundation endanger them all.

And cracks are everywhere. A litany of scientific evidence swelling by the week points to these cracks and measures them, though scientists admit they can’t predict how deep the fissures will run or how fast they will gape or where new ones will appear.

If our perceptual best is plopping the health of the earth onto a list and then hemming and hawing about its importance, our pyramid will crumble, and with it our home.

And all because we couldn’t see the base for the spire?