Unknowing is the sanest approach to the climate crisis

If you read one thing during COP26, make it Valerie Iles’ paper, We’re Only Human. Her brief overview of the climate crisis offers useful frameworks for assessing the confusing proposals and counter-proposals to reduce humans’ heating up of the planet. So it provides a timely lodestone for making sense of whatever emerges from the UN conference on saving the world.

But it’s also a masterly exploration of how the way humans know the world is a poor foundation for comprehending how quickly and comprehensively we’re ruining it. How we understand the world is shaped by what it was like when we were born into it. Iles argues that it is changing at such an exponential rate that our thought constructs are scarcely able to conceptualise the speed at which reality is changing. 68 per cent of all carbon emissions have occurred in just my lifetime (60 years). In just the last seven decades, the population of humans in the world has tripled. In the context of the millennia of the planet’s existence, the impacts of these changes are unfathomable. In order to think ourselves out of the crisis we’ve created, we could try to unknow many of the things we hold to be true. Iles suggests a few ways to start.Read More »