The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and change

Our societies are built to move slowly, says Bill McKibben in the Guardian. And that’s the difficulty with climate change:

We’re talking about a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables. Physics couldn’t care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.

Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry. It’s implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which means into melting ice and rising oceans and gathering storms. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets. Do nothing and you soon have a nightmare on your hands.

What are the dimensions to understanding climate change? He lists them, but what do you tell yourself that you have to know? More importantly, and this is the sticky part, what do you tell yourself so that you don’t have to think about it? This gets ugly, quickly, but it’s not like a +4 degree C is going to be a walk in the park.

I think we’ve figured out one of the key metrics – 350 PPM. Get down to that, charge people for the carbon we pump into the atmosphere and the problem… at least begins to change.