By John M. Wilson
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?