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Brian T. Liao
Dec 26, 2018 • 3 min read

The 11:59 Hypothesis of Global Warming


This is America.

The 11:59 Hypothesis is an idea I had in AP Government in High School. The idea is simple. We have turnitin.com where you have to submit papers by 11:59 PM. What happens though is that high schoolers are lazy and will procrastinate. They will start working as late as possible and frantically work until they submit it at the last possible moment, 11:59 PM. I have seen this procrastination at school, where my friends will have a project due 5th period and get to class 1st period and work all day not doing the work for the class and finish by 5th period. This could be a two week project done in 5 frantic hours.

So what is the relevance? The idea is can we apply this to global warming. Our 11:59 is the end of the world, where so much damage has been done to our world, it is irreversible. We can prevent global warming if everybody worked to cut back carbon emissions and be sustainable, but people enjoy their livelihoods and aren’t willing to do so. We might want to contribute and make daily changes such as biking to work or reducing plastic bag usage but this doesn’t have sustainable impact and is instead just a feel good scheme. Corporations emit tons of fossil fuels and waste and in a competitive market, cutting back loses business to competition. Our current political scene also is indifferent to climate change, with President Trump and the Republican Party not accepting it. Thus it is incredibly difficult to solve climate change.

But as with high school students and their 11:59 papers, it is possible global warming may face a similar situation. Human civilization is procrastinating fixing our damage to the environment. The theory is that the long term solution is when the Earth reaches its tipping point, human civilization will come together to solve global warming in the nick of time, the 11:59 of Earth. It’s possible the frantic rush will give scientists the funding and motivation they need to come up with a solution that can reverse global warming and keep the Earth in equilibrium. It’s possible the rush will cause governments and corporations to come together to protect the Earth, as this point there is no point if the Earth is destroyed. Humanity will have no choice but to face this problem head on, and solve it.

It is also possible that we will fail incredibly, like a student who starts at the last minute and fails to submit his paper by 11:59. The problem for us is if we do that, our world is gone. For the student, his world might be gone for a week as he or she fails the assignment, but he or she will move on and continue with life. For us, that is not an option. I have faith in people, they will overcome and survive, whether it be through 11:59 or meticulous cutting back and sustainability over time. Humanity has come this far, and this will be just another test in our civilization through time.

Post by: Brian T. Liao