The Numbers

We are told that we live in the age of information.  An increasing number of the things we do, see, and hear are linked to the computing grid -- an ever-expanding, unimaginably massive layers of 0s and 1s stacked on top of each other. Every day, we interact with it without even being conscious of what we’re doing. Think about how many times you’ve checked your phone today.

Every industry is obsessed with big data. And every industry -- tech, retail, media, advertising -- is being streamlined by careful analysis of unimaginably large sets of numbers that can tell them how to run more efficiently and at a higher profit margin.

These are the numbers that make up the code that allows us to watch YouTube from our phones.  The numbers that route a cargo ship with thousands of tons of goods from Hong Kong to Long Beach.  And, of course, the numbers in our bank account and our social media profiles that tell us how much we are worth.

But here are the numbers I am most concerned with: our planet’s surface temperature has risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit on average since the 19th century.  16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Global sea level rose 8 inches in the last century. Scientists have given us lots of numbers that tell us that the Earth is warming, that we are most likely (read: definitely, without question) the cause, and that if we don’t do something about it, there will be hell to pay.  It’s already happening.  

What will these numbers mean for us in the future? How long will it be before we truly grasp the consequences of what they are telling us? How long before the reality sets in, before we start changing the way we live in order to ensure a future for our children, for our species, for our planet as we know it?

 
 

LA is burning