Photo by alex.tango.fuego...
For the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about an article (from 2006) I read in the New Yorker - letting it roll around up there and trying to figure out what I was going to say about it in here. Now that the scientific concept of this article is out in the media - the concept that the damage of global warming has, in effect, been done - I figured I would go ahead and write about it.
In less than one hundred years, fewer than twenty-five percent of the world's population has irreversibly changed our climate. Starting today, we could park every car, shutter every factory, and cease and desist the burning of coal and natural gas for our electricity, and it would take hundreds of years for our climatological systems to equilibrate to their natural order. The report in the media is saying one thousand years - but who really knows? It's definitely not years in scale, common sense tells us this. It's certainly not decades of recovery, but most likely centuries.
What's it to you? Some people might be tempted to say "Well, if we can't reverse the trend, then why do anything about it? Let's just keep on keepin' on." Harsher weather extremes will be the most rapidly evident manifestation. Bigger, more deadly, more frequent hurricanes born of a longer hurricane season. Spring thunderstorms that spawn more tornados. Tornadic activity in places that havent' experienced it in the past. Continued drought. These weather extremes will effect agriculture and food supplies.
Look for water rationing on the horizon, then entire cities completely running out of water. Dust bowl conditions leading to desertification of larger and larger areas. Acidification of the oceans. Continued reductions and diversity of fish populations. Melting of the Arctic ice cap. The breakup of the Antarctic ice shelf. Rising sea levels. Species extinction and the unforeseen ripples that will cause. The list goes on and on.
What struck me yesterday listening to this on NPR, is that if the industrialized world stopped everything today, it would still not be enough. The reality (which I've actually known for roughly 32 years now) is that there are too many people on this blue marble, using too many resources, producing too much waste, burning too much fossil fuel, to support a sustainable way of life. Sustainable as in the one thousand year time frame. We are short-timers, short-sighted, a short-minded bunch.
Are we so cocooned in our luxury high thread count sheets, so consumed with consuming, so involuntarily under the spell of avarice, that we don't care what happens ten or twenty or fifty or one hundred years from now?
I don't know what it all means. I don't pretend to have the solutions. I just know that somewhere in the last one thousand years, humankind collectively chose the unbalanced path. We choose the unsustainable path. We choose the path of least resistance, and highest degree of comfort, that causes the most damage. Most people are unaware. Some have their heads in the sand. Most don't or won't care. They'll continue with their pursuit of the almighty dollar and the American dream. I doubt that we can, as a global society, make the hard choice that are upon us. But then, I'm a pessimist.
Or is it evolution? Is this the natural course of things, of human existence on this planet, that we will be ultimately responsible for our own extinction?
I'm not the least bit worried about this economic crisis. We are just seeing the tip of the fiscal destabilization iceberg. What we see today is an ice cube compared to what lies ahead. It's actually a good thing. It's making us think about frugality in life. It's making us think about more important things in life.
There are bigger things that one trillion dollars to think about. There is the future of humanity...hopefully the human heart, soul and spirit will prevail...hopefully...hope...
Here is the article on MSNBC.
Here is the article, "The Darkening Sea", from the New Yorker.
Stay tuned for my "The end of life as we know it..." series.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Photo by alex.tango.fuego...