Kent Pitman

Kent Pitman
Location
New England, USA
Title
Philosopher, Technologist, Writer
Bio
I've been using the net in various roles—technical, social, and political—for the last 30 years. I'm disappointed that most forums don't pay for good writing and I'm ever in search of forums that do. (I've not seen any Tippem money, that's for sure.) And I worry some that our posting here for free could one day put paid writers in Closed Salon out of work. See my personal home page for more about me.

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SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 7:50AM

The Big C

Rate: 45 Flag

Climate Change. There are a great many things I could say about Climate Change, but today I want to make a pretty simple point about the likely health effects of Climate Change: They won't be good.

It's also common in discussions of Climate Change to talk about the effects on large systems, like cities or business sectors, or on large groups of people, sometimes even the entire population of entire countries. Such talk, I worry, can make your eyes glaze over, like trying to talk about whether the war cost one or three trillion dollars. Who can even know the difference? And yet, the difference most certainly matters.

So I'm not going to focus on large systems or groups. Most assuredly, they'll come up incidentally, but really I'm just going to talk about myself, what I fear will be the impact on me personally. But really you should know I'm not just talking about me, or meaning to say my situation is more important. I'm just using my situation because I know it best. There will be many like me. If you like, as you read along, substitute the name of someone near and dear to you, and substitute their situation. If you find a way to put a personal face to Climate Change, I'll have achieved my goal today.

Cancer is another aspect of it for me. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year. I was fortunate to be covered by decent health care. Just lucky. There was a gap some years back where I could not afford health insurance and, had the cancer happened then, it might have ended differently. Fortunately, I was beyond that rough economic time and evaded what might have otherwise been a death sentence. Others have been less fortunate, which upsets me greatly. We should have universal health care.

I didn't write about my cancer at the time it was happening. Well, I did, but only indirectly. I wrote a post about roller coasters the night before I went into surgery as a metaphorical way of expressing how out of control I felt. Everything was on autopilot, and I was plenty scared. But at the time I didn't want to acknowledge the situation publicly. In fact, this article is my first time writing about it in a web-accessible location.

Frankly, I'd really rather have such matters remain private. It's a curious thing about politics. I've been a strong advocate of privacy rights for all of my adult life. My personal web page begins with an essay talking about the separation between my public and private persona, and how I don't like volunteering personal information to the public eye. There are too many ways to abuse it. There are a lot of things about me that are not the world's business and that ought not be fodder for people at search engines to browse or for marketeers to slice and dice for sale.

Citizen participation in a democracy sometimes requires otherwise, however. It's no one's business what my religious beliefs are, what I think of abortion or being gay, or how my family chooses to deal with end-of-life issues. Yet modern American politics is typified by invasive meddling in areas such as these, and so I find myself joining those who feel the urge to stand up and be counted on such important matters, even at the sometimes risk of having what should be our private lives out on display. I don't like it at all. But I see no way around it.

To speak of my medical position is scary because it's possible the information can be used against me. Of course, my medical situation comes as no surprise to insurance companies which can force me to disclose my medical history as a condition of coverage. At least, thanks to recent legislation, they can no longer exclude me for having a pre-existing condition. But they can still raise my rates, or those of an employer who has me in their “pool.” So an employer at some point in the future may quietly let me go or another may fail to hire me, never saying the reason. Who can know? What I do know is that insurance companies pay people to figure out clever ways to get around government restrictions and back to business as usual.

I guess that's why I read every day in the news that voters are ready to vote the Republicans back in. I guess voters think the protections we have now are too strong, and they'd rather go back to a time when the insurance companies weren't screaming in pain from the thumbscrews to which we consumers have put them.

Commerce is also a key component in my story. Adam Smith's much-touted “unseen hand” of capitalism has seen fit to decide that we should not make things locally any more, you see. We buy them from elsewhere. Who knows where? We assume the fuel will continue to flow, and flow cheaply, to get things from here to there. We assume there won't be floods intervening. We assume there won't be disease that causes us to restrict travel. We assume a great many things. And because of those assumptions, we're comfortable believing that commerce will just continue to function reliably no matter what.

And as long as it does, I'm probably fine. Or as fine as one gets having had a recent cancer. There are no guarantees. A highly competent surgeon removed my thyroid and with it the cancer. So I'm ahead of the game in that regard. I can't complain. I probably had more problems fighting the provider of my short term disability coverage than the cancer itself. At least with the cancer I had skilled professionals acting as my advocate. With the insurance company, it was the other way around. But I persevered in spite of administrative obstacles, and subsequent tests have so far shown me all clear. Odds are that I'll die of something else, not thyroid cancer. Of course, I still have to manage life without a thyroid, but that's mostly a routine matter in modern society. I just take some pills every day, which I can always get from the local pharmacy. Always. No matter what.

And that brings me back to Climate Change. It threatens us all in so many ways. The water level might rise. There might be more and stronger storms. The food supply is certainly in danger. If that falters, there could be famines, even wars. Any of those things could affect me, but I don't dwell on them a lot, at least not in the obvious way. But all of these problems have something in common, and that's where my mind often goes: Even in mild form, they can disrupt the normal flow of society.

Carrying capacity of the planet figures in here, too. It's defined by Wikipedia as “the population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment.” I've had many debates with people about what that number is. I agree with those who think we're already there. I've heard others suggest that carrying capacity is not a number but a function of technology—that as technology improves, so will carrying capacity. I don't agree. Hanging our hopes on technology is dangerous because if technology ever fails us, we will suddenly and “unexpectedly” find ourselves with far less ability to sustain ourselves than we thought we had. It's not written in stone that technology will get ever better and more accessible.

Ask someone who's been through a hurricane or a flood and has had to back up and start over. The march of increasing technology is more variable than we sometimes allow for. The temptation may be to dismiss such things as “local effects,” but there can be global disruptions. Peak oil and the looming shortage of rare earth elements will have profound effects on the sustainability of present technology. And Climate Change is affecting food supplies in the ocean and even on land, as Russian droughts have caused a global wheat shortage. We've also built a society that relies on global assembly of goods; things are not made in one place any more. If transportation becomes suddenly expensive or inaccessible, that's a problem that can be highly disruptive.

When the stock market crashed, we found suddenly that we had been overleveraged. People who thought they were making enough money or spending it in the right places came to realize that they had based these thoughts on assumptions that the world would always be precisely as it was, only always better. Suddenly they realized how fragile this assumption was and how little prepared they were for deviation. Climate Change is going to be a rude awakening that we have spent our technology enabling spectacles rather than increasing basic robustness. I think we'll find that this is what carrying capacity is really about—not how are we living in normal times, but how capable are we of surviving exceptional times, of dodging the global extinction events that have taken down the dominant species of past eras. Do we have good plans for emergencies? I look at events like the Katrina hurricane and shudder.

Calamity, you see, has this very personal aspect in my mind. If the complex engine of our society's continues on track, if commerce continues without interruption, I'll probably continue to have access to the pills that compensate for my missing thyroid. My most personal fear isn't all those big things—the sea level rise, the storms, the fires, the pests, the diseases, the famines, the wars. If those problems happen, we all have to fight them. I won't be alone.

It may seem silly, but I just worry the drug companies won't make my pills any more. Or they'll make them, but the free market won't find enough value in getting them to my town, especially in an emergency. I'm dependent on what feels like a Rube Goldberg mechanism to get them from wherever they come from into my hands. If that breaks down—if the stores close, or can't get stock—I worry no one will notice. It's such a small thing that I fear it will be overlooked. I'd love to stock an emergency supply, but my doctor has to prescribe only what I need, and the insurance companies work to prevent my buying pills ahead of when I need them. Talk about death panels. They try to placate me by noting the pills don't have a long shelf life. Or they mention I can buy a 90-day supply instead of a 30-day supply. But, 30-day or 90-day, they still make me burn that supply down to almost zero before I can get more.

So I obsess about what may seem to others as a comparatively mild risk of Climate Change—about the mere interruption of business as usual. It's not the biggest effect one could imagine. But it's how I personalize it. Your circumstances being different, you'll probably personalize it differently. That's okay. Just please do try, once in a while, to think of Climate Change not just as a global phenomenon, but as something more local, tangible, and personal. After all, Climate Change won't just affect the future of our species and perhaps of all life on Earth, but it will also, as part of that, affect you and me personally.


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Kent, this is outstanding. Really excellent work. I’m glad to hear that your cancer was treated successfully and I hope that thyroxin remains in a readily accessible supply. Technology tends to advance independently of actual human need. Sometimes it’s right in sync with society and other times great achievements are shelved and forgotten. I think that this interaction of innovation and utility is a natural phenomenon and despite its inefficiencies, is about the best it can be. I remain optimistic but concerned.
Great post, Kent. I'm one of those that think we may already be beyond capacity. The next great shortage may be fresh water. Wells are running dry across the planet from farm irrigation and they take years to replenish. I worry about fraking for natural gas and what it does to our water supplies. Everyone will take it personally when a loaf of bread costs $1oo if you can find one.
Of course GW will always be put on the back burner as long as the Lindsay Lohan's and Snooki's of the world are here to take our minds off of those pesky little things like global warming.
Kent, you really packed a lot into this one. It's going to take me the day to hit all the links, but I never leave a post here that I don't feel enlightened and a little in awe of you buddy. I'm so very with you on the privacy issues (obviously, I use a nom) and am sending someone this link because we had just this discussion yesterday. 'What's my business is my decision - and you've got no vote in it' was my position and now I know I'm in good company. Now back to the links. Fore!
"I feel myself a cog in something turning" -- J. Mitchell

We've been through the "Big C" too, and felt ourselves fortunate to have a health plan that enabled us to get through. For many years, our doctor friends told us not to complain about the cost of health care, that we were still "net beneficiaries". But in recent times, with the discussion of universal coverage, one had the astuteness to say that we really had been discriminated against, because my choice of employment was restricted to the set where I could continue our health care without fear of being excluded due to "pre-existing conditions", i.e., conditions that my previous insurer would love to unload on someone else.

What stuns me is that even telling this very personal story, some friends and relatives are still sure that "Obama-care" is a socialist plot to destroy America. They don't get that universal health care is one of the country's founding principals. It is an extension of tithing. Of the resources the Pilgrim's put aside lest one of their brethren need help. The community taking care of the community, but on a grand scale.

By the same token, living on a drumlin, 45 feet above the current sea level, with a yard that drains so well I have had to give up on the American dream (of a green lawn), I have always joked that Climate Change would not affect me. Of course that was a joke. Living here in the Northeast, where most of my vegetables are delivered in nitrogen-filled blister packs in the belly of a 747, I would quickly starve if the great engine of commerce were disrupted. There are plenty of places along commerce's path that are not as well situated as my house.

And there lies another mystery. Even as a teenager, when I first learned how fossil fuels were created, by a million-year process of decay and sedimentation (the key here is the word "fossil", which somehow has been swept under the rug); even then, I wondered, how could this be a sustainable process? Reversing a million-year process over the course of a few hundred years? It can't work can it?

But again, when I make what seems like a simple, irrefutable argument like that, friends and relatives don't buy it. They know that I may be smarter than them, but they are not going to be fooled by my clever arguments. Their instinct tells them that the EPA is just another communist plot to destroy industry and capitalism.

Do we give up? I hope not. With enough voices relating personal stories, perhaps we can undo the propaganda that comes from that not-so invisible hand, and get our government back to being of, by, and for the people.
I'm very happy that you had such a positive outcome with the cancer treatment. It is indeed fortunate that all the stars aligned to make that possible. However, I'm not so sure that such a cosmic event will occur with regards to climate change. Your piece offers a much-needed perspective on the impact the coming changes will have on each of us.
First - let me say I'm heartened to read you are on the mend. As Bonnie said, I imagine this was a hard post for you to put up and I am grateful for it. You hit many important points, but the most powerful one is its ability to make people think of "Global change" on a personal level.
Its way too easy to dismiss the big picture as something you cant affect. But when one considers how the big picture affects you personally then its hard not to be more involved. Thanks Kent.
And be well, my friend.
Kent, I am so thankful you are able to hold your own at this point. It can't have been easy going through the hell of cancer only to find one must likewise face the other 2 hells that go along with it, that of increasing health care for a time along with the hell of the worry it won't be enough.

I often wonder what these insurance companies would do if people stopped buying into their way of thinking.

Another thing that occurs to me here is, that I myself am reliant on governmental agencies for mere survival. It can be difficult to keep one's chin up under the circumstances. To be infirm in a herd of "you're-on-you-own" type politically downsizing administrative types can be a terrifying experience. To be on one's own throughout due to a family issue makes it certain one must fear, for life, the consequences of any failure within our government to serve its people.

I don't envy you. I also don't believe we are on the right track as a people yet. There may be a long way to go.

Brilliant work, Kent. I can't say enough about this piece. It may be one of our best.
Rated
Of course, I must add a "y" to the word I misspelled.

However, come to think of it, it may well be this is one of the better pieces ever posted here, along with perhaps being one of your personal best.
Kent,
Thank you for this informative and pointedly moving personal piece. You’ve offered a tremendous service here. I deeply admire you using your own challenges as a means of educating and motivating others. I especially appreciate the connections and observations you made in this post.

The following paragraph alone is priceless. It indicatively describes the fear that so many live with in regard to illness:

“I’m dependent on what feels like a Rube Goldberg mechanism to get them from wherever they come from into my hands. If that breaks down—if the stores close, or can’t get stock—I worry no one will notice. It’s such a small thing that I fear it will be overlooked.”

I am honored to call you my friend Kent. Your work is always thoughtful, respectful and insightful. Thank you again for such a fine article.

Rated and appreciated
I have not yet had the "Big C," but I have several chronic health problems that require daily medication. For someone in good health, medical insurance is perceived to be kind of like car insurance -- something that covers exceptional events. If you're in good health you can easily do without health insurance. You just have to make sure that you don't break a leg, and the occasional visit to the doctor can easily be paid for out of pocket.

But once you have a chronic condition that requires daily attention, everything changes, and health insurance becomes literally a life and death issue. And as you note, for the person with a chronic health problem, all the parts of the supply chain and their vulnerabilities to disruption, whether from global warming or some other source, is a great concern.

Concerning your situation -- if you had to get cancer, thank goodness you got a version that is highly treatable. Once you get the medication adjusted it's pretty smooth sailing, and you'll probably die on your 100th birthday from a hang-gliding accident.
Kent. Whatever it was that convinced you to bend your own rule and share what you have shared here, know how real your story makes these issues. You share here the good fortune that allowed you to receive good treatment and acknowledge your gratitude for that. Yet, still, you can look to what you fear. How many of us would do well to look as well, especially if we have not looked or let ourselves look so far. I hope everyone comes to read your piece and hear your story and your resolve, and then I hope that everyone stops for a while to let your thoughts sink in and register that what affects one affects all. Thinking of you.
Rarely, maybe never, has anyone articulated my most personal concerns -- and beliefs -- regarding the potential dangers arising from climate change, most partcularly its ability, at least in theory, to cause a technological collapse. It's this very personal aspect of the effects that makes this piece great, and makes me feel that much less alone in harboring those concerns. Brilliant. Urgent. Rated.
Kent,
This speaks to everyman and everywoman. All too often, climate change is spoken of in generalities as you point out. However, it is as personal as individual deaths.
The David Koch (of the infamous Koch bros & Tea Party founders/funders) Origins of Man Smithsonian exhibit presents one scientist's theory that fluctuating climate led to the evolution of the big brain. This seems to posit the idea that humanity just might be improved by cataclysmic climate changes rather than extinguished as a species as is much more probable ,considering the abrupt changes that the present climate changes may bring. They put a happy face on humanity's demise.
Transportation is our Achille's heel for sure. Grassroot's movements to buy your food locally are common. I am ripping out my lawn next spring to put in beds for food. I plan to put in a rain catchment system. I hope for the best in the face of bad news.
Thanks for this essay, Kent. It really brings it on home.
(And my hopes for your continued remission and good health!)
Stephanie
Hatchetface, thanks, I'm glad you liked it.

Michael, I agree with you on capacity. We're overleveraged.

Abby, it's cool that you're following the links. I hope you enjoy them.

PTW, thanks for all the interesting thoughts. Yeah, I've wondered about the sustainability thing forever, too. Weirdly, I remember a long time ago hearing something about how oil companies got an allowance because they had a resource that was going away, so they could find something else to do, or something. Naively, I thought they would actually do that. I see now that faith was misplaced.

Coyote, your support is really appreciated.

Bonnie, the easy fix would be to make the access to one's personal drugs more flexible, even at the risk someone would go into business. It's not a perfect world, but I'd rather people buy more drugs than less--if nothing else, it will bring the price down.
Thank you for putting a human face on a problem which often seems to be so big as to not be an immediate concern. Your tip of the coming iceberg story hits home for many.

I have a friend who is involved heavily in trying to get our dependance on fossil fuels to become as extinct as the fossils...but the world hates change, especially those who are trying to play catch up. Still, the technology exists for it...even as we drive ourselves to extinction.

R
C for complex. Not much to add to the great comments, except that the interconnection of life is obvious and we have to become more aware or we will perish..
Kent, this is an extremely powerful post. First, I’m glad that you’re now cancer free. As everybody else, I was unaware that you faced this very important hurdle in your life. Second, you did an excellent job linking your personal fears with the fear associated with something more global that can affect all of us.

I’m also shocked by the attitude of insurance companies with regards to prescriptions. Like you, my wife always has to wait until her medications almost run out before she can get her new pills. Our pharmacist told us a while back “it’s caused by the insurance’s policy.” When I was living in Canada, this was never an issue. You could get your medication for the next 6 to 12 months, if need be.
Tim, right now I think people are still in denial about Climate Change. But, as with cancer, it doesn't hurt to ignore it.

PW, yes, there are a lot of people who are dependent in different ways on the health care system. And one might wish one could opt out, but it's not a realistic option. Collective political action seems the only way. I sure hope people actually vote this year in large numbers.

Dennis, your support is very uplifting. Thanks.

Mishima, the Big C is something you hopefully will not get. It's not a lot of fun, even if you have an outcome as good as mine. It's still traumatizing even then. And my outcome as really good. As long as society stays working normally, I mean. Even then I will have beaten the odds on the original thing, so I can't complain. But I'm using the occasion not to bemoan my own situation really, but to highlight what I imagine many go through in different ways.

Anna, thanks. Yeah, well, I think patriotism or commitment to cause or whatever you want to call it sometimes means sacrifice, and if my privacy is what I sacrifice, I suppose there are bigger costs others have paid.

AJ, I'm so glad I could make you feel less alone.

O'Steph, I don't know why "Buy Local" has to be a diss on other countries. I work with people abroad all the time and am not xenophobic. But there are both national security reasons and just plain fuel conservation reasons for doing certain things locally. I feel like we don't address those issues of fragility.
Not everyone can pull off handling such a complex posting this well. So, we wish you the best and longest happy life possible. And thanks for referring me to the Bill Gates talk on TED.com.

My observation is that every day, there are millions of people trying to make the world a better place -- health by a million stitches. And yet the fabric continues to tear apart. Global warming, peak oil, other depletion of a whole host of finite resources from rare earths to phosphates to potable water.

I am afraid that Malthus was right after all. For better than 200 years technology has pushed back, but the jury is certainly debating the fate of the planet at this moment, and no verdict has been reached.
Kent, I've noted and admired the carefully objective, dispassionate voice of your many posts, you've been a voice of reason, and advocate of reason, here on OS as long as I've been looking in

In this essay, you show that you can handle the personal with the same elegance and economy

As to your subject, I'm one who's long believed we exceeded the carrying capacity of the ecosystem shortly after the Industrial Revolution, technology has allowed us to get way over-leveraged and a pop in the population bubble is inevitable

no one's safe

you've made the personal connection to your dependence on the planetary megastructure and your vulnerability to its fragility, we drive inexorably towards billions of personal disasters because those with their hands on the steering wheel are in denial of that vulnerability

can we hope that our inheritors will retain enough remembrance and understanding to not just blow it up again?
It has a face now - yours...or your avatar's. Thought provoking and informative post. Thanks, Kent.
Buffy, thanks for the support. Something in what you said reminded me of a post I need to do that had slipped my mind. I made some notes this time so I won't forget.

Lea, I guess it is complex, even after I tried to simplify it. Maybe that's why it's hard for people to take in. Conventional wisdom might say I should have pared it down still more. But people seem to be meeting me halfway and slugging through it in spite of my inability to do that. Thanks for visiting. :)

Kanuk, I think the issue of prescription medications is something an awful lot of people have to individually confront. It probably hits a lot of seniors, and having the AARP probably helps them some in getting a collective message together, but there's more that needs doing. There needs to be some patients rights related to medications. I'm not sure offhand what they would be, but right now there's nothing one can push back with when talking to the big companies...

Lefty, I'm glad you think it came off okay. And I hope the verdict has not been reached. I'm increasingly worried that the inertia in the system is going to be hard to stop. Not just climate inertia but business inertia.

Verbal, thanks. I appreciate you dropping in.

Roy, I think denial is the right metaphor. And if I'd thought to make the point (I think I made it in a comment), it's like the denial of signs of a cancer. One wants to just go straight to the doctor but it's so convenient to just stay away and hope. Foolish. But convenient.
thanks for writing this, Kent. I think it's hard for some people to share personal details about themselves, but thank-you for sharing this. And I'm glad you have insurance and the help you need.
Matt, it's kind of my face. It's been photoshopped for effect a bit. But either way, I'm glad to personalize it for you.

Firestorm, it will never be certain. If I'm wrong, you can ridicule me. If you're wrong, we'll all be dead. Let's hope for all of our sakes that it's me that is wrong. If it's you, and the species really does get decimated or go extinct, it will be on your conscience. Most of everything that needs to be done to insure us against disaster is somewhere between harmless and actively interesting as a business opportunity. I see little danger in going my route and considerable danger in yours. Thanks for the opportunity for me to refer people to read James Hansen's Storms of My Grandchildren. There's plenty of reasonable science in there in an extremely approachable form, and plenty of heart, too, so perhaps you should take your gripes up with him.
politicians are committed to 'more' not 'better.' if we don't wrest control of the nation from them, the survivors are going to be living in soulless high-rises with a token tree behind glass at the corner.

the process is well-advanced in china, and america is following that path blindly, led by a political class with less divergence in ideals than the cpprc.

good post, but it's time to think about 'why,' and 'what to do about it.'
Like the mix of the global and personal. Brought it home to me. ((Kent)) I wish you the best of health.
Dolores, I'm really torn about the personal information thing, and I recommend people be pretty conservative about that. But done with forethought and an understanding of what's at stake, it's just sometimes necessary. I'm glad people understand and have commented on the signficance of the trade. I hope it gives extra weight to the topic.

al, I am, of course, trying to spend some time talking about the what to do thing. It's not easy. I am somewhat of the belief that at this point action must be taken so soon that proposals to change the political system, which some have advocated, are not able to work in time. This increases the importance of lobbying in an era where I wish other things could work (like your federal citizens initiative ballot thing). I think it would be a long road to that and that we don't have time. And even though it creates opportunities, it's far from certain that the public would demand action on these issues either, making the whole issue doubly scary.

Julie, thanks for the hugs. I'm glad the article reached you.
Whoever said the "the personal is political" got it right in this instance. One of the best posts I've read about complex subjects in a long time, and I know it can't have been easy for you. I am selfishly glad that you did make your cancer public because in this case, it illuminates some of the most important issues the planet faces.

@Kanuk: You can still get some prescriptions in advance here, but many aren't available for "safety" reasons. I guess they think people will OD on their anti-depressants or something.
Emma: Thanks for the clarification. I guess it depends on the type of medication. Back then, I remembered people close to me getting three or six months worth of prescribed medication at the time. I think in the U.S., they fear you may sell the "extra" medication that the insurance company already covered.
This was an excellent, subtle post, Kent. You've woven together the personal, the political, and the global together in a compelling way. I hope a lot of people read this.
emma, I think you're right on the reason. One can't get cough syrup any more because of fear people will abuse it. This turns the notion of liberty on its head. A free nation is about the notion that “yes, we might get in trouble allowing liberty, but we're willing to take the risk in exchange for the benefits.” In the case of my medication, since it controls metabolism, the fear is that someone will decide to diet with it. It's dangerous for that. But I guess I think people are entitled to do dangerous things, as long as they don't hurt other people. The problem with making these things locked up is that it incentivizes people who are desperate for what they really do need to do crazy things to others to get it. That seems worse than the problem they were trying to solve!

Kanuk, they may indeed fear that, or maybe they just use that as an excuse so they have to spend less time explaining they are chintzy.

Rob, thanks. It means a lot to me that you came to read and that you liked the piece.
This is such a wise post. Personalizing the effects of climate change rather that trying to comprehend it in one big bite. Good thinking. It always helps to take a gigantic problem of any kind and break it down piece by piece. I personally had an experience this winter that I will never forget.

I was standing around at 6pm waiting for my little bus to take me home in Moscow, Idaho in mid-January. It was raining. I was shocked. What? Why would one be shocked by rain? The reason was that I had not ever seen or even heard of it raining in Moscow in January in my lifetime. It is one cold place. It should have been snowflakes that fell in my hand not raindrops. I have lived in this area most of my life. I once remember it being -35 degrees one year. I looked around that night and there was no snow. None, zip, nada. This was unheard of. My first thought was forest fires. I thought we would burn up with no snowpack. But we had a crazy, wet spring and a mild summer by our standards. So we didn't get many fires. But we did get bugs. Ants were everywhere for awhile and they are never a problem. My house was crawling with spiders. Little changes that had no real consequences but I noticed them as they were unusual. The is more wind than there ever used to be, too. I am losing the gist of your point but I have done my homework and seeing unusual patterns not just an increase in heat is a sign. My garden which I have tended for years without any pesticides, was so infested with one particular bug, that I had to uproot most of my plants and burn them. This had a minor impact as I didn't get my usual abundance of food from my large spot. But what if I had been more dependent on that as a food source? I asked around and our biggest fruit grower mentioned how much more they had to spray. Once again, not an immediate concern but I don't like to bite into a peach that was sprayed with chemicals way more than usual. It has to have long-term effects that aren't positive. Of course, long-term is not a real concern for me anymore. HA!
I can see a time when our state, I live in Washington now, when our massive fruit orchards could fail to produce. Already the forests have changed and many native stands of trees are in trouble due to insects and dying off. I live in a remote area and like you mentioned are dependent on having thinks delivered. If there were a crisis, the Seattle area would be the priority not our little area. I am rambling so I will close. Enjoyed your article.
Dr. Spudman, it is affecting and will continue to affect everyone in quite different ways. I appreciate your sharing your story.
Firestorm, I've come to believe that your "Food for thought" is flavored with syrup of ipecac.
Sorry to hear about your cancer but glad it is doing OK

Many of the most important decision whether they are about climate change or Health care are often based on narrow ideological grounds for now. They tend to be primarily decided based on what enables the corporations to make the most money in the short run regardless of what is best for the majority of the public.

In the long run or perhaps even in the short run it will be in the best interest of the corporations to wake up and stop destroying the environment even if as some of them claim it isn’t leading to Climate Change.

If there is no environment there will no longer be any economy for them to protect!!
Davy, nothing in this article says anything about the cause of the cancer. It's not really relevant to my point. My point is about dealing with the aftermath of a surgery that removed a vital organ. The cancer is mentioned only incidentally to identify what brought that about.
Kent,

This is definitely one your best efforts, at least in my view. I have a number of things I would add to the list of things that are overlooked as obstacles in the climate issue, but I those comments would, I fear, not be welcomed, so suffice it to say this was an excellent read.

RATED
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Firestorm, I moved your long comment to The Cornfield, explaining why there. Since your reply was snarky, I moved my long explanation and your reply there as well.
India is suffering horribly from overpopulation. NO one know in India actual population is one billion and thirty or forty million.Government of India given full rain to people to increase population.as fast as you effort.Actually India is governed by God,Government of India is caretaker governing body and there is functioning anarchy in India.Let people suffer as they can sustain the difficulty
Kent,

For fear to be displaced to The Cornfield, I’ll be brief. ;-) I read the material provided in the link to the NOAA website, and the explanation provided by Firestorm above is not as clear cut as it seems. If I have the time, I’ll send you a PM about it; I may also contact Dr. Martin Hoerling, who is the person responsible for the NOAA article.

Now, I need to read your other post, which seems to have been well received.
Better I get to this late than never. Thanks, Kent. It is through sharing personal stories that we reach hearts and minds in the interests of change. Change on a human scale, for progressive causes, is looking like a losing cause, now, as it has for the bulk of the past. But, as Springsteen said, "No retreat, baby, no surrender." I have seen triumphant struggles against cancer waged in this manner. As to the systemic aspects, nearly every single cancer story illustrates the madness of our system; the rationing, the waste, the have's and have not's--it is not way to run a civilized country. But you know that. Very best wishes, ~SK