A New Dialogue

Today’s Oregonian talks about Climate Change and the affects it will have on migration and Oregon. If, as many models predict, the Southwest dries up, the Gulf Coast is inhabitable due to severe hurricanes, the East Coast floods, and intense fluctuation between drought and flooding happens in the Midwest, the question naturally begs, “Where will the people go?”

One prediction is that they will come to the fairly temperate Pacific Northwest (or any place north for that matter). In order to plan for this, since it’s so difficult to see the future, I would like to recommend a new cliché to help guide our policies, “Look back first, then look forward.”

We have to see where we have been before we can see where we are going. We need to look back at other societies that have collapsed due to climate change and Jared Diamond does a great job of synthesizing those cultures. We need to look at the mistakes we have made and the good things we have done. We need to examine why we have went to war and really question if they were noble causes. We need to look at how we’ve been able to survive, has it been keeping fairness in mind for all or just a few? If we look back and can resurrect policies or technologies that haven’t been used we can capitalize on our intellectual capital of the ages. We can reexamine design aspects to transport water, get people around, and look at how others have lived to decide how we want to live.

The first step needs to be questioning how we do things. So, if we adopt a “look to history first policy” guided by the simple act of “looking back first, then we can look forward” we will train ourselves to learn from history. The key is honesty and being true to ourselves, our intentions and our ancestors intentions. If we aren’t, then no learning will take place and Climate Change will get the best of us.