Monday, October 14, 2013

It Doesn't Matter

It doesn't matter why they're dressed as a tiger, have they got my leg?

About educational reform. This relates to the video above because we've spent years talking about why we need to make these changes, why these new ideas make up the best way ever (with truly weak evidence), and we're only just getting into the thicket now.  But there's more...

As we were sitting in our staff meeting on Friday, we watched a video about what kind of jobs will be available twenty years from now. Most top jobs today didn't exist twenty years ago, so we really have to prepare kids for jobs that....  That what?  That we don't know about??  That we can't even imagine?? The video focused on technology, and, I wonder if it's a wise assumption that the next twenty years will bring even more tech jobs to the fore. We might be in for a sharp corner ahead.

Because as I was sitting there, I was thinking, and I actually said so at my table, that it doesn't matter what kind of jobs they'll have in 20 years time because our future could very well hit a serious turn in about 30 years from now. I'm a riot at a party! But here we are, we're still stuck worrying about the nitty gritty of day-to-day life, while the entire system is collapsing around us.

About those 30 years: it's been reported in the Globe & Mail, and CBC, but you can read the whole study in the Journal of Nature (always go to the primary source, kids!), and what it actually says is,
Using 1860 to 2005 as the historical period, this index has a global mean of 2069 (±18 years s.d.) for near-surface air temperature under an emissions stabilization scenario and 2047 (±14 years s.d.) under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario.
So if we ignore it all, business as usual, we have somewhere between 20 and 61 years before the climate will change permanently to the effect that the coldest year in 2047 will be warmer than the warmest years pre-2005. AND, they're talking global means, and I'll put my money on this part of the world to be one of the last to die off. That means, best case scenario, my youngest could make it to 70 without struggling. That's a relief.  Really. I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing to go last as a region, though. If and when things get too hot to for animal life to survive, it'll be up to us to make a whole lot of tough decisions and/or prevent mass invasions and genocides. Too bad for the tropics, eh? We mainly talk about people - like the world will be fine, it's just people that will die off - but that huge diversity of animal life will be gone too, and most of the plants.  And the ocean's already a mess. The report suggests coral reefs could be gone in 20 years.

When 9/11 happened, the entire day stopped at school, and everybody talked about the events and potential implications. I dropped my lessons for the afternoon, and we just talked.  It took over a few days, really. But when the papers and radio announced the IPCC findings, and some dudes extrapolated and distilled the concrete reality from that report, there's nary a mention in my building or neighbourhood.  It isn't in the curriculum objectives for my courses.

About to be brave in a flood.
It's too big to be real to us, but it has to be.  We have to be very very brave and face this reality, at least enough to get off our butts and raise some hell to ensure our livelihood scrapes by comfortably a few more decades at least!  If we stay in denial, we'll enjoy the next decade or so, but then it'll all be inevitable. If we can be realistic, and then break through the miasma of despair, we might actually be able to slow the process down. But to change things we'll have to give up flights, cars, eating meat, shopping, getting rich by exploiting resources, free markets, fossil fuels....  Lots of different bad things will happen, but they'll be less fatal if we can all work together.

If I were Minister of Ed, I'd make sure every student knows how to grow their own vegetables and how to preserve them: canning, pickling, making jams, horticulture, seed-collection and storage (Monsanto be damned!). Those are the important jobs of the future. We'd have kids looking at ways to make home-made water filters, and how to get water from other sources. And as for learning skills, responsibility and organization are great, but the key to the future?  Adaptability.  It's actually always been key, really. Yet it's not part of our learning skills chart anywhere.

How well can we change our lives to accommodate a dramatic change in our climate?  I'm all for being pro-active, but I can't grow vegetables. I'm hoping just to attach myself to someone with food skills!

And another learning skill we need to add to the list is unwavering compassion. Collaboration comes close, but it doesn't quite capture the flavour of what's needed.  This could all go very wrong.  We desperately need to keep our heads and help one another through it all.

And we need more theatre-of-the-absurd while we're at it. We need more weird-ass plays about our lives to remind us how mad it all really is.

Just a thought.

Piglet having fun without burning GHGs!
As for the jobs of the future, I'll put my money on philosophers. There will be scam artists galore and religious zealots -  they come out of the woodwork in times of trouble - but the real thinkers might be given a closer listen as we struggle with death. I mean, we all knew we were going to die anyway, but we often comfort ourselves with a leave behind - something that will outlast our corporal form - like a painting, or a book, or a bunch of blog posts, or some kids. That's because we've really just been pretending to be okay with death. Now we're facing a total obliteration of ourselves.  No more leave behinds to keep us going.  Even Picasso and Plato will be completely gone. Nothing.

So seize the day, my possums. Just please try doing it without using any fossil fuels.

And, wow, it's a gorgeous day out there! Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

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