written on July 3, 2014 and saved for publication until tenure
A friend who is making a career change asked me “If you could do anything else, what would would it be?” That was two weeks ago. I still haven’t responded. It led to quite long conversations with my partner though, particularly with the idea of being able to make a radical change in my research life with impending, unprecedented job security. Or an even bigger change in a different way if the tenure decision doesn’t go my way. Or does!
As with most conversations these days, our conversation turned to climate change. My partner brought up their dislike (but applicability to our current question) of the “going to war” metaphor. For those clueless out there, people who actually think about climate change and actually worry about it and actually want to make changes to prevent (sigh, mitigate) it, accept climate change as an existential threat. As existential as the threat of Hitler’s reign on Europe. And they point hopefully to the fact that under that threat our factories and research laboratories switched full force, seemingly overnight, to building bombs and planes and tanks and developing ciphers and deciphers and new bombs and new planes and new tanks. Yay! That’s the part of the metaphor that turns off a pacifist.
But my partner’s point was: if the world really did start acting like climate change is the existential threat that it is and people like you and I were recruited to join the war effort, what would you be recruited to do? The follow up question was: since you care about it, why don’t you start doing that now?
It’ll be interesting to see what I’m thinking about a year from now when I post this.