Global Warming – are we in dire straits ?

I have been continuing my quest of environmental education and am constantly adding to the reading list. I am about to finish “The Weather Makers” by TIm Flannery, an Australian scientist turned journalist. I’ve seldomly been this depressed about any piece of non-fiction. If the possibility of global gloom and doom turns you off, then don’t read this book.

This is not to say the book’s not worth reading. It’s full of interesting fact and gives you an overview of the history of research into global warming. It’s not a dry piece of science writing, either. Flannery has an agenda. I can’t blame him for it. Of course, he will seem biased to any critical mind. He believes in global warming, and he wants you to believe in it, too. In fact, he leaves no doubt in your mind that global warming is going on. That’s fine with me. I’m convinced global warming is a reality. I just wasn’t sure how terrifying a reality. I hate to think that too much of this book is merely hype. But like I said, if it is not, then get ready for life on earth as we never dreamt it would be like in our worst nightmares.

The book is full of data that I won’t repeat here and certainly won’t remember. But in a nutshell, this is the message (and forgive me if I generalize):

If we stopped emitting C02 into the atmosphere tomorrow, we might get away with minor devastation of the earth’s biosphere and manegeable weather and climate changes.

If we continue doing what we’re doing without any change, starting with your grandchildren, mankind  will live on a progressively hotter planet with no glaciers in the mountains, no frozen North pole, no Amazonian jungle, largers deserts, and here comes the big one: 2/3 or so of all species – plants and animals – will be wiped out.

Any measures in-between will result in some sufficiently disastrous in-between condition. So, is that enough reason to start doing something today ??

I used to think that it was all about melting ice and rising sea levels. So what’s the worst that could happen? That some coastlines disappear, that there will be an exodus for higher land, and that we will adjust. It never occurred to me what a large percentage of species are fine-tuned to a very delicate temperature range and that they cannot survive above those temps. Think of that – 2/3 of all species !

 Whether this number is accurate or not, think of what it means for how we should deal with global warming. It’s one thing to say that so-and-so red-bellied, wide mouth jungle toad will disappear. Go ahead, say it, “Who cares” ! It’s merely an ethical dilemma, right ? Well, what about the species that we need to feed ourselves ? No, not cows and chicken, how about the staples that mankind needs to feed on ? Global warming at the scale things will escalate to while we talk and talk and not do anything, is likely to leave us without enough to eat for 6+ billion humans.

Call this book alarmist. Fine. I think that faced with even a remote chance of disaster, we should all be alarmed ! There is a good chance for planet Earth to change for ever very quickly. Imagine your kids trying to explain to their grand children about the Garden of Eden we all used to live in. As a father of a two-year old I am alarmed.

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One Response to “Global Warming – are we in dire straits ?”

  1. We have approximately 150 year lead-in to the problem of humankind’s historical innovative use of petrochemical fossil fuels

    Virtually all major oil dependent economies are locked into fossil fuel resource, which are bound by geopolitical dynamics.
    We are caught knee deep in a gooey oily mess of our own making

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