Facts. Anyone else getting sick of that word? Alternative ones, fake ones, real ones, their relation to feelings… What the heck even is a “fact” anyway? If I remember Mr. Hines’ Science class correctly, it’s something that can be observed and agreed upon, but boy howdy is that not enough anymore. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
We’ll start with an easy one: the sky is blue. Now, barring colorblindness, overcast clouds, or other technicalities, that’s pretty much accepted as a fact, hands down, no questions asked, right here, black and white, clear as crystal, right?
Well, take a little journey of imagination with me to a time in the future. 2047, specifically. In that year, my daughter will be as old as I am now, 33 years old. Let’s imagine we can hop in a time machine of your choosing (DeLorean, TARDIS, phone booth, H.G. Wells’ bathtub, etc.) and visit my daughter in 2047. Let’s ask her if the sky is blue. Do you know what she will say? Because, if things don’t turn around fast (and I mean F-A-S-T) her response will be something like this:
“Well, when I was a kid it was blue, but now it’s sort of white. You see, humans didn’t do enough to stop climate change, so when they finally realized too late how up the creek they were, they had to resort to something called “geoengineering.” That means they launched a bunch of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to reflect some of the sunlight back and keep us from broiling… but as a result we don’t have blue skies anymore.”
She was always so well spoken, that kid. Sound crazy? It’s true.
If we don’t act fast (and I mean F-A-S-S-S-T) it won’t just be blue skies that are no longer an observable fact. Say goodbye to hamburgers, or meat in general, or maybe even vegetables not grown in a lab or greenhouse. We’re not really sure how scattering sunlight will affect green plants, but hey, for now the sulfur dioxide plan is only Plan B behind actually trying to not pollute so much, so… silver lining? Or is that a white lining, now? Oh well, at least I didn’t have to drive one of those weird electric cars.
Sure, the heating of the planet is already causing catastrophic storms and will eventually lead to water wars (and yes, the aquifer Minnesota draws from will be affected) so we can cross the old “water is wet” off the “obvious facts” list. As reported in the New York Times on October 7, 2018, “a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040” and also “if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty,” so it looks like a lot of the facts we take for granted could turn out to be, well, fudge-able by the time my four-year-old girl is my age.
Isn’t it funny how facts work, sometimes? Sometimes new facts disprove other facts we thought would never change, and sometimes we don’t want them to change. Sometimes we go to great lengths to convince ourselves of certain facts and how they will never change… and then they have the rudeness to come barging through out front door and ruin our nice carpet… or planet. Maybe, when you’re looking at something like decisions that could literally wipe out a large amount of life on this planet… you need to let some of those uncomfortable facts in.