By John M. Wilson

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Pandemics may be very disruptive to society and have a considerable impact on most of its institutions. While we focus most of our attention on the immediate health and economic concerns of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we might consider what our response should be in the face of other crises. That is, global warming is already making our situation more precarious on Earth. The immediate impacts on humanity are temperature increases that cause the most vulnerable areas to experience agricultural failure. Sea level rise gets the press, but heat is the immediate threat that has resulted in millions of climate refugees, as land that once was productive can no longer sustain communities with available resources.

The Anthropocene is a unique, extreme, and rapid change epoch that is affecting all life and the supporting environment on Earth. Our world is the result of a very long series of actions and decisions. Each step may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time, at least for some. Humanity is short term clever but not long-term smart. People are both the victims and perpetrators of our precarious situation. Some of those most vulnerable have been the least implicated in creating this mess. We cannot blame an alien force, as climate change is of our doing. The difficulty we face in trying to stop global warming is a product of our biology and culture. Caving and speleology may suffer along with all human institutions. What is our plan for culture and organization in a future that may be far more traumatic, devastating, and cataclysmic than what humanity has ever known?  How do we adjust as a species and as cavers, one small community within the vastness of the human condition? More interestingly, what role may we play to change the course of our trajectory towards an unlivable planet, not just for humans but all other critters on Earth?


  1. John, I enjoyed this presentation. However, on page 21 with the globe and the 15 fixes, I think the Status of Women needs to come to the top, #1. Women have been second-guessed too long. They are now becoming the leaders in the world, but in our country, they are a second thought. Also, youth have been left out of this picture and they are quickly becoming leaders in environmental and political movements. You can see this by who became elected to the NSS BOG this year – 2 young women and 3 young men. This change is exciting and I think women can lead the charge with water issues – we are the mothers of all the Earth and the element of water is highly important to our beings. Give us the credit we deserve. Youth lead the revolution in Cuba. They will lead the revolution that we need in the U.S. You can see it in what’s going on in Seattle, Portland, Colorado, and many more U.S. cities. Some have not been trained or learned non-violence and that is vital to make an Earth revolution succeed.

  2. Linda
    You make a valid point about women and youth. I listed about thirty human traits that will make fixing the global warming phenomena complicated to stop and prevent the most severe catastrophic events from occurring. I have not done any research that would rank order the importance of each trait. Someone else did the graphic used on page 21 and, in my opinion, does not have enough supporting data to justify the numbering of each item. I probably should have removed the numbers, which implies a ranking, which would be difficult to defend.

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