Thursday, July 02, 2015

Global Warming is a Year 2000 problem

Global Warming is a Year 2000 problem.

What I mean is not that Global Warming has been solved (far from the case) nor that it is a problem that we could only have solved 15 years ago (though that might be closer to the truth).

What I mean is that if we solve Global Warming, then people will think it was a hoax (or something we should not have worried about).

Think back to the glory days of the 1990s. Media was full of stories about how all the world's computer systems were going to fail because programmers tried to save space on their systems by dropping the first 2 digits off the year field. Power stations and ATMs would stop working. Global financial crises would ensue (well, that did happen, but for other reasons...). Basically we were going back into the stone age unless we chucked large amounts of money at software developers to fix our computer systems and by and large that did happen.

After we partied like it was 1999, apparently nothing happened. I am sure a couple of systems failed, but nothing major. We were all still alive and we still had electricity and we could still get money out of ATMs.

Post 2000, everyone now thinks the whole thing was just a bunch of hooey.

But maybe we did avert major disaster by all our hard work. We will never really know.

I hope to an extent the same thing does happen with Global Warming. There are differences of course. We have not got a set date where the planet will be uninhabitable. A date when we can look back and laugh at ourselves for being so silly.

Instead, we will look back at ourselves in shame for being so oblivious (and remember what things used to be like).

There's probably not much we can do on an individual level. We will need to elect people who are aware of the problem and reach consensus (easier said than done).

Let's just hope that in 7984 years we have a Year 10,000 problem to deal with ("Why on earth did they think they could save space by only allocating 4 digits to a year?").

No comments: