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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: June 2021

14 - We Can Afford to Wear a White Hat

Summary

The stories that we tell ourselves shape our lives, express our values, and guide our body politic. Drought, Flood, Fire has made a compelling case that climate change is hurting people now and contributing to expensive catastrophes. But there are also a lot good things going on in the world. Infant deaths are declining. More kids are going to school. We are becoming much wealthier, more productive, and inventive. Countries like Germany and states like California make it clear that we can grow economically while reducing our emissions. We can afford to be like a good cowboy and wear the White Hat. Rising greenhouse gas emissions are also symptomatic of beneficial growth. Education, technology, and rapid economic expansion have lifted billions from poverty. Between 1961 and 2050, we will carry out humanity's greatest experiment in parallel processing, as billions of individuals grow, think, discover, and consume. We are living in the midst of a potentially positive time bomb. Never have so many seen so much, known so much, or done so much – or had such a profound capacity to affect the world for good or ill. We can avoid a global climate catastrophe. But we need to believe in science, believe in each other, and do what is right.

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