For those of us who have long believed climate change to be real, and despaired at Washington’s reluctance to accept it, John F. Kerry’s optimistic metaphorical outlook brings hope (“Climate change is a bipartisan threat,” Opinion, Sept. 18). Our science-minded leaders, “tending to the garden of ideas and advocacy,” are gradually persuading skeptics to accept climate change’s reality, pointing to such “felt needs” as those arising from increasingly destructive hurricanes and wildfires.
But, alas, when eventually this fruit of acceptance “ripens” to where it can be harvested, its time may have passed. It is the insidious nature of large systems to respond only slowly to corrective measures, and, importantly, to overshoot in the meantime. Therefore, even with carbon brakes full on, the climate will continue to warm for a long time before turning around, possibly passing the tipping point that places earth on a runaway train to uninhabitability. Frighteningly, that doomsday train may already be rolling.