Wyrd - OE: that which has become; fate-shaping; destiny-unfolding

Monday, 17 October 2011

Wyrd climate - the first weft

The climatic future of the planet is a shifting, shimmering web. One that each and every action we undertake bends and shifts and reworks. The ancient Germanic tribes of northern Europe understood this idea of an interwoven and self-shaped destiny - they called it wyrd.

Climate science can open small portals onto the tumultuous twist of connections that we call the planetary climate system. And the images from those fleeting glimpses of the state of our climate are troubling and stark. The climate is being changed in a way that is unprecedented in recent times. And by recent I mean recent for the 4-and-a-half billion year-old Earth Mother -  for at least the last 40 million years.

As a geologist, I know that roiling change in the climate is a constant. Earth has her cycles and rhythms and random punctuations of disaster, played out over tens and hundreds of thousands of years But this new age we are ushering in -- with our Great Climate Experiment, the Anthropocene -- is different. Because we are creating the first hyperthermal in 40 million years -- and the rate of change is faster than anything the planet has experienced in that time.

With this site I'd like to help open wider those windows, to peer in on the inner workings of the climate; to bring the debate above the noisy and partisan 'denier vs warmist' war that has spilt into the political mainstream. Man-made climate change is real, its consequences dire precisely because they are ultimately unfathomable. Mapping the bounds of our newly created geological epoch, and finding where the serpents and dragons actually be -- that's what I'd like to help unfurl, in my own limited way.

The climate debate, like all great social struggles, is one of competing stories. That makes the story-teller a much-needed lightning rod -- transforming the powerful but dry-and-sterile language of science into symbols of real human meaning. Climate change challenges the very myths and narrative of the modern consumer age. Perhaps we still have time to strike words down for a new and glorious saga.

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