Intolerable

“Intolerable climate consequences” are at this moment being discussed on NPR. Hearing the phrase makes me wonder how many ways there are to define “intolerable.” What’s intolerable for me might be just fine for someone else. For example, just because I don’t want to see the melting of the polar ice caps and consider the possibility intolerable, others might not care one whit about the ice way up north and way down south. For them, especially if they live inland on high ground, the disappearance of ice and snow in places thousands of miles away holds little import. In fact, they might even welcome the rising ocean levels as a convenient and efficient way to wipe out the troublesome port cities that have so many social problems and house so many illegal aliens.

It’s just a matter of viewpoint. A problem for some is a solution for others. The problem that becomes a solution then becomes intolerable for someone else. This is the way of human affairs. This is the driving force of politics:  the continuing effort to solve problems, right wrongs, adjust to change, eliminate the intolerable, and then deal with the positive and negative impacts of political acts.

No wonder the current debate over the level of intolerance of climate consequences continues.  Even though there seems to be increasing acceptance of the idea that global warming is taking place, each solution poses a problem for many people. Most of those problems are global in scale, affecting millions of people in far reaching parts of Earth. It’s hard to imagine how an intolerable problem with such huge impact, whose solutions are in themselves intolerable to so many millions of people, can ever be successfully solved.

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