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How does climate change stimulate advancement?

large building on stilts whilst area beneath is flooded

Earth is very resourceful for the existence of living beings. Unexpected and continuing natural occurrences provide further resources, but can also be detrimental to us and our environments. For example, some of the natural occurrences are essential to our existence, such as rainfall, while others pose threats to our living conditions and survival, such as extreme heat, volcanic eruption, and flooding. Climate change is an ongoing growing threat that is affecting the survival of all living creatures on earth. Human interference has accelerated climate change, however, innovation, discovery, and technological advancement can also help to reduce the risks arising from climate change.

We need to continuously adjust to the changing environment using new ways of thinking and living. Changing our thought processes often leads to creativity, innovation, and discovery. This is demonstrated in recent innovative technologies to address critical issues in climate change, such as, use of electric cars to reduce carbon emissions, closure of plastic use for commercial purposes, and biofuel.  

Despite fierce competition with the hostile natural environment to achieve superiority, all living creatures are still dependent on nature for their survival. The increasing demands and needs of human beings are causing havoc in the natural world, and the consequence is evident in disastrous natural events, such as increasing heat and pollution. The popular saying after any uncontrolled natural event is, 'we are punished by nature'. The obvious response to this saying is ‘how do we avoid nature’s punishment and find a solution?’. This question generates creative ideas and innovative practices toward a solution.

When living in a hostile environment, such as a flood-stricken area of the world, a child must learn techniques to cope, and these are taught as part of a normal process of life in such places. The natural environment thus serves as a motivator to develop resilience and coping strategies. Increasing knowledge of climate change is the outcome of the increasing threats from climate change. This knowledge is not only necessary for survival purposes, but also for understanding the importance of the co-existence of nature and living beings.

We need to assess the positive learnings in parallel with the negative consequences of adverse climate change and to find a constructive solution, e.g., our knowledge and understanding of climate change would not be at the present scientific level if climate change did not pose a significant risk. This risk has motivated if not forced us to look for solutions.

Our learning from the adverse natural environment has stimulated us to innovate, research, and develop ways to live more sustainably. Climate change can be seen as an indicator of progression and development in the face of destruction and despair. The reversal hypothesis can provide a useful knowledge platform to develop ideas and strategies to cope with adverse climate change effects, whilst acknowledging that the powerful existence of the natural world around us is facilitating the advancement of civilisation – without which there will be stagnation. Without climate change we would not know the risks and challenges we may face in this changing natural world; it is creating motivation and stimulation to rebuild, relive and readjust, whilst advancing our use of science and technology.

This article has been written by Dr. Manfusa Shams, Academic staff  (WELS) and Senior Fellow of the Advance Higher Education Academy at The Open University, in November 2022 as a response to a call for articles from our OU colleagues, that relates to climate change from their own disciplinary or lived experience.

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