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Thu

23

Nov

2006

Fasten your seat belts for global warming
Thursday, 23 November 2006 03:19
by Mickey Z.

Is O.J. Simpson more important than the greenhouse effect? Consider this: I just typed "O.J. Simpson" into a Google News search. The first page alone provided links for almost 2500 recent stories. The results for "global warming," however, totaled roughly 300. Thus, by media standards, O.J. Simpson appears to be at least eight times more significant than climate change.

Obviously, media coverage doesn't always correlate to value. Douglas Futuyma, a professor of ecology and evolution at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, recently talked to CNN about global warming. "It's not just down the road somewhere," said Futuyma. "It is just hurtling toward us. Anyone who is 10 years old right now is going to be facing a very different and frightening world by the time that they are 50 or 60."

And guess what? It's our fault.


Global temperatures rise, in part, thanks to the emission of greenhouse gases. In other words, every time we turn on a light, take a shower, or do the laundry, we add to the greenhouse effect. Go ahead, wash your dishes or take a drive or check your e-mail. The acts we take for granted are impacting the planet. It's our fault that ocean levels are rising and species are going extinct and human children face "a very different and frightening world" in the near future. What we call normal is actually consumption and consumption requires energy.

For example, where do you think that fabulous new belt of yours came from? It entailed the extracting and processing of raw materials and a factory‹standing on land that was once home to innumerous ecosystems‹in which it was assembled. What about the delivery truck that transported the belt to the store‹standing on land that was once home to innumerous ecosystems‹where you purchased it? We could factor in where the truck was made, the roads on which it traveled‹standing on land that was once home to innumerous ecosystems‹and don't forget the gasoline/oil issue. If that belt is leather, you might have to add in factory farming, tanneries, and a toxic brew of chemicals.

We shop, the planet suffers, it's our fault.

But what if it's not? What if all those ardent warming deniers are correct? Well, that's where seat belts come in. While some of us fasten our seat belts to avoid getting a ticket, many more do so as a safety measure (what Dubya might call a preemptive strike). We don't wait until we see another vehicle spinning out of control to snap the seat belt into place. We fasten it upon entering a car. It can be a little uncomfortable to wear, but if we arrive at our destination without needing that seat belt, we typically don't regret using it.

To apply this same mentality to climate change‹to be unconcerned whether or not the human role in global warming is overstated‹would be to live with a vision for the future. The only players with a vested interest in the status quo are those who profit off our indifference and our conspicuous consumption, so why not alter our lifestyle as if our very existence were hanging in the balance? To accept this challenge would be to overcome corporate propaganda...perhaps the dominant factor in our society.

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Brad Arnold said:

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Abrupt climate change will affect almost everyone now alive!
What I am about to tell you is unbelievable, and therefore I ask that you google the phrase "abrupt climate change."

When the climate is forced, it doesn't respond smoothly and gradually. Instead, proof in the form of ice core samples show that the climate at first resists changing, then abruptly changes to another stable state.

In other words, it is predictable that within a decade or two our climate will abruptly change from the mild Holocene of the last ten thousand years, to a hotter dryer climate that has resulted in mass extinctions many times in the past.

It is unreasonable to expect that mankind will so dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) fast enough to avoid abrupt climate change. A fast growing population combined with growing per capita energy use, plus trillions of dollars in fossil fuel infrastruction means we are on track to double our CO2 emissions by 2050.

Furthermore, a warming earth means that carbon sinks will become carbon emitters bigtime. In other words, it is predictable that soon the earth will start emitting far more GHG than humans, at the same time it is able to absorb less of mankind's CO2 pollution. Nature absorbs about half of mankind's 8 billion tons of CO2 emitted each year. By 2030 it is predicted that nature will only be able to absorb 2.7 billion tons a year.

The only solution for global warming is to remove the CO2 from the air after it has been emitted. I suggest using genetic engineering to improve nature's ability to absorb CO2. Perhaps seeding a GMO into the ocean.
 
November 23, 2006
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