Tag: change

The Climate Revolution

For me, 2016 has been the year of thinking about the climate. Climate has been a big topic in many realms, such as my schooling and in politics. For example, in my Weather, Climate, and Society class, we learned all about the controlling factors of climate, such as humidity, convergence and divergence, and types of clouds. Also, with the election of President Elect Donald Trump, who believes that climate change is a myth perpetuated by the Chinese, many people fear for the future of climate policy. Having learned much about the scientific and social sides of climate change, it was very refreshing to learn about the history of climate revolutions from Dr. Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT.

Dr. Emmanuel explained that the “Climate Revolution” wasn’t one large revolution, but a collection of small revolutions and individual efforts to make the field a reality. In the beginning, the field of climate science started with several curious scientists who wanted to learn more about hoe the surface temperature of the Earth is regulated. This lead to the discovery of ice sheets, which led to them understanding the periodic shifts in Earth’s temperature from ice age to warming, which lead to the discovery of greenhouse gases. Dr. Emmanuel also pointed about that in the 19th century, when the field was first being established, there were contributions made by scientists who specialized in all different fields, such as, geology, physics, chemistry, and more. This helped me to understand that climate science is the culmination of many different fields and that the climate also has an effect on more than just one thing.

One thing that I also found interesting was that Dr. Emmanuel claimed that the concept of “climate change” isn’t a new thing. He told us that people have always been concerned with the change in weather patterns, but only now, with the increased accuracy of observational data, are we able to make easier conclusions about climate which can lead to more changes in policy. This lead to climate science transforming from a field mainly rooted in traditional weather observation to using mathematically based data and observations.

Overall, Dr. Emmanuel’s lecture helped me to learn even more about climate change, which I didn’t think possible. It made me see the importance of climate science, which helps us to understand why climate change occurs, but also who sea levels rise, why oceans become more acidic, why storms become more powerful, and why weather patterns having been changing over the years.

 

I am a Revolutionary!

In series, whether of sports games, movies, or lectures, the final piece should tie the previous sections together by bringing together old ideas and proposing new questions to walk away with. Professor Marcos Perez, a Professor in Sociology here at Colby, did just that. Professor Perez’s lecture brought us back to our first lecture, from Colby Philosophy Professor Dan Cohen who attacked some very similar questions – what is a revolution? What is a revolution defined? What are the necessary components of a revolution? Stemming even further from Professor Cohen’s lecture, Professor Perez turned his lecture onto the audience – what defines a revolutionary? Perez’s words particularly hit home for myself, and as I imagine with a number of other students, given the current state of political affairs in our own homes, at Colby, and ultimately, in our shared country. Placed in positions of extreme disagreement and emotional unrest, us Colby students must understand this question and know how to properly answer it in order to respond appropriately. Perez explored potential downfalls of becoming part of a revolution – financial, physical, and emotional, thus explaining the difficulties associated with identifying as a revolutionary. It is likely more students would identify as “revolutionaries” than the number of those actually taking part in making difference on a revolutionary level. While this may be the case, I do not write this condescendingly, as I am likely one of those vocal yet inactive students. Professor Perez does not necessarily condemn those not involved, but rather urged us to truly understand, what is a social revolution? In part with the difficulties he addressed, he also mentioned the difficulty of even finding a revolution to be a part of. Being a revolutionary involves a mental understanding and awareness, however it is not as easy as simply claiming “I am a revolutionary!” Nevertheless, revolutions are so powerful because they can occur at any level. Like the American Revolution, they can occur on a global level with impact to many countries worldwide. However, revolutions can also occur on an interpersonal level, or even within one’s own mind. Revolutions do not require thousands of slain men nor ships across seas, but “simply” great change. This term’s revolutionary lectures all provided a new perspective on revolution, and how they occur, throughout history, biology, and into the future. Professor Perez did a phenomenal job of wrapping up this series but prompting us to go forward with our new knowledge and serve as revolutionaries in some capacity or another, acting as catalysts of change. A revolution is impossible without revolutionaries behind it, and with the past 12 weeks behind us, I hope I am able to take my knowledge and become an effective revolutionary!

Was “The Scientific Revolution” actually the, scientific or revolutionary?

The first lecture of the Continuing Revolutions seminar was about “The Scientific Revolution”, by Dan Cohen. The main idea of the lecture was actually proof-checking whether that event that we so proudly call the scientific revolution was that special after all. In order to answer this question we primarily have to actually be sure we know what do we mean by the term revolution. Revolution represents a sudden radical change in absolutely new direction that affects an enormous number of people who are not interconnected. Now, what Cohen successfully explains in his lecture is that we should not take things we hear for granted, but question them, not for the sake of the argument or just to spite the others, but in order to check if a certain statement is true or not. Even John Stuart Mill has come to this conclusion in his book “On Liberty”. He states that if something that is taken as a truth is not questioned or is protected from questioning, it becomes a dead dogma where the truth actually loses its strength because the ones who believe in it, believe in it without actually understanding why they think that is truth. It is important to notice that here we do not talk about the revolutions that might exist on the personal level and whether they can actually be called revolutions, as that is a completely different discussion.

So, was “The scientific revolution” the, scientific or revolutionary?

As it was shown during the lecture, many scientific parts of this revolution were not exactly that scientific. The scientists of that time had many bigot perspectives and have actually not made any experiments (something essential to any scientific process), but just tried to support the hypothesis they had in any possible way. They actually even ridiculed the scientist who, as we can see now, were right the whole time. That was the time when it was more important who you were and who supports than what you were saying. Continuing further, we can see that there were many different events in our history that can be seen as more important for the scientific community than the one we call “The one”. The difference does exist between them: Only The revolution took place in the western world, while when the major mathematic discoveries were created together with incredible advances in medicine much before this revolution in Arabic world, for example, nobody even thought of calling that “The one”. Following this argument, one can say that The scientific revolution was not even that revolutionary, as some of the things were only rediscovered by the western scientists – in other parts of the world knowledgable people knew about those things long time before that.

Nevertheless, The scientific revolution was definitely an important time in the history of mankind, but was not necessarily the only time when changes of that kind were made, or when the changes of that size were made. The truth is, however, that the history is written by the winners and we all know who colonized the rest of the world – white male christian western European. Thus, what these people have considered to be the most important remained written in the history books that we read now as the most important, even though it did not have to be. Hopefully, we learned from that and are ready now to appreciate revolutions wherever they are, just for the sake of their utility and impact.

Consequences of Coastal Living

Professor Kerry Emanuel of MIT was an interesting view from a very committed climate scientist. I found his work very interesting and look forward to what he continues to publish about climate change and hurricanes. The most interesting parts of his talk for me were about the coastal living. As someone that has a family house on Cape Cod, I have always been on the look out for sea level rise predictions for the area, as it is in such a vulnerable location on the coast. Not only is it exposed, it is also entirely on a pile of sand instead of bedrock.

Professor Emanuel spoke to the coastal destruction that was executed in areas such as Florida and Louisiana. It was interesting to hear why these places are continuously destroyed and rebuilt. I have never understood d why people would remain in a place that they had had their house destroyed. This is because coast are a place where culture seems to grow and thrive. Little thought is put into building somewhere it is safer inland. Along the coast of Florida and Louisiana, houses are constantly being destroyed and rebuilt in the wake of devastating Hurricanes. People still decide to take the chance of building in those locations, which seems extremely risky to me as someone who lives in New Hampshire (not at risk of getting a hurricane anytime soon).

I guess that even though hurricanes can destroy and devastate entire coastal developments, sea level rise is even more of a risk that we will be forced to face in the coming years. There is no rebuilding after sea levels rise, you can only move further inland to prevent further flooding and destruction of your home. There are also unforeseen consequences with sea level rise that are not just the flooding of settlements. One of these consequences is the contamination of the water supply. Even houses that are inland can be effected by this because their water supply may be effected from water table changes. Houses on the Cape that currently have clean drinking water from wells and underground water sources may struggle with contamination from salt water. Contamination from salt water will then render the water sources unusable by contamination from salt water.

These are some of the scary realities that Professor Kerry Emanuel of MIT made my think about. I think that being a climate scientist sounds extremely  interesting and useful in the coming years as we see our planet greatly effected by climate change. This is something that we will have to address in the coming years as the coast lines will be drastically changing. People will have to move, entire families will loose their homes. Many people will not be able to sell their houses for profit because no one will want to buy them. Climate change has many, many unforeseen consequences we will have to adress as a country in  order to make sure it does not continue at the rate it is currently going at.

Just Do It

No matter how much I’m doing, I never feel like I’m doing enough. I always think about everything that I could be doing instead of focusing on how full my plate already is. It’s easy to lose motivation when you don’t see the results of your work, this happens to me often. However, Khalid Albaih’s talk inspired to me to just do it; to continue whatever I’m already doing and to involve myself in other movements no matter how small my contribution may be.

As an artist whose political cartoons have gone viral, Albaih once also felt as if he wasn’t doing enough for his community during times of crisis. With most of his work online, he wasn’t directly involved in protests or policy change, but his art had a much larger impact than intended. Much to his surprise, his artwork started popping up in random places all over Egypt, both as a sign of resistance and recognition. This shows that even the smallest of contributions to a movement can carry immense power. Albaih’s work being posted throughout the cities of Egypt is  almost a parallel to the use of the Mockingjay symbol in the Hunger Games. People can unite through his art, building community,  and can also use his works to represent their reality: both physical and emotional. It goes to show that you don’t have to be on the front lines to galvanize people to revolutionize, you can sit behind a computer screen and have a profound effect.

After realizing this, I started to think, what can I or we, as a Colby community, do to create change even it seems small? The most obvious to to use our privilege for good and not evil, to speak up for the voiceless, and to protect the liberties of others. This privilege I speak is not solely related to finances or social class, but also on nationality and location. Albaih said that in Egypt, “they break you without giving anything back. No healthcare. Nothing.” As Americans, we have many liberties that we often take for granted, which needs to come to a stop. We need to start thinking “how can I use this service to make a difference?” Also, Albaih mentioned that the rhetoric “you could be president one day,” is unheard of in Egypt, due to political corruption which leads to presidents who stay in office much longer than they should. Showing that even small children musing over this potential careers are more free than others, which many would never think of.

In Egypt there are people literally lighting themselves on fire because of how distraught they are with the current state of affairs and the constant presence of injustice in their community. In America, we have people who won’t even light a fire under their own asses to help others. Do you see the disconnect? There is so much more that we need to do and that we can do. No matter how large or small the task, just do it. It’ll make all the difference.