In a just-posted N.Y. Times piece called “The Flood Next Time,” Justin Gillis reports the following: “The evidence suggests that the sea-level rise has probably accelerated, to about a foot a century, and scientists think it will accelerate still more. The official stance of the world’s climate scientists is that the global sea level could rise as much as three feet by the end of this century, if emissions continue at a rapid pace. Some scientific evidence supports even higher numbers, five feet and beyond in the worst case. Scientists say the East Coast will be hit harder for many reasons, but among the most important is that even as the seawater rises, the land in this part of the world is sinking.”

What are the responses, for the most part? (1) “Talk to China and India — not us”; (2) “Yes, sea levels are rising and the East Coast will definitely be in trouble down the road. But these conditions won’t affect us or our kids — they will affect our grandkids and great-grandkids”; (3) “Yes, we should all be riding bicycles and driving hybrids and generally reducing our carbon footprint, but a lot of people — politicians, movie stars and their ‘people,’ women and especially mothers — feel safe when they ride around in SUVs, especially during the Sundance Film Festival, so what are ya gonna do?”

I know this: never before in the history of our species have educated people of power and influence blithely shrugged en masse and admitted that advanced cultures are slowly drowning the earth — i.e., that the earth’s ecosystem is gradually being overwhelmed by industry, and that this will lead to sea water gradually engulfing the low-lying areas of the United States and causing all kinds of havoc, probably less than 100 years from now. No other culture has ever been confronted with this situation before, and the main reason this catastrophe is more or less assured is that people are determined to enrich themselves as much as possible before dealing with the climate. Money and comfort above all! This basically means adopting a myopic attitude and delaying decisions ad infinitum.