I debated with myself what to call this post (if you can hold a debate with only one person without that one person being insane). Several subtitles popped into my mind:
- Pale Blue Dot
- None Like It Hot
- Hell or High Water
The reason should be clear: there’s only one Earth. In Sagan’s immortal words,
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Our world is pretty fragile. If it were a marble, covered in varnish, that varnish layer would be relatively about as thick as the atmosphere is on our planet. Our world is fragile, and we’ve been abusing it wholesale for the last few thousand years. Now, however, in the past two centuries, have we managed to really change things.
We’re pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere than ever before, and that is raising the temperature higher than ever before. We’re melting the polar icecaps at such a rate that polar bears are being found drowned because they’ve been unable to find ice to rest on. Storms are getting stronger, droughts are getting longer, rainfall is getting harder. We’re in danger of shutting down the gulf stream and, ironically, plunging Europe into an iceage.
And all this because we can’t get off the fossil fuel wagon.
I don’t really have much more to add to this post. It suffices to say that no scientists dissent from anthropogenic global warming. Any dissent you hear is from either
- non scientists
- scientists who are from a different discipline and are speaking from ignorance
This isn’t merely a “No True Scotsman” assertion, this is backed up by the ferociously peer-reviewed scientific literature. All climate scientists everywhere agree that global warming is real, and that a large, dominant portion is from human industry and activity. The only “debate” is over the extent and the best way to deal with the issue.
The fact that the USA’s fuel economy on their vehicle fleet lags behind even that of China should be ringing bells that the lie about “the economy or the planet” isn’t just incredibly stupid (because hey, good luck spending that gold when you can’t live in Florida anymore seeing as it’s underwater), but that if even China’s standards are higher than those in the USA, something is wrong.
The plain truth is that we’re used to the Earth “always being there”. It’s a slow thing, to us. It usually operates on the scale of centuries to millennia. Global warming is acting on the scale of decades, and that’s still too slow for us to notice.
Except now we’re noticing. The Antarctic is melting, the Arctic is breaking up, Greenland is slipping into the sea… I just hope that, ironically, it’s fast enough for us to notice before it’s too late.
I’ve only just watched An Inconvenient Truth, and the facts presented (facts, not opinion) paint a very stark, very definite picture. Our civilisation can be thought of as a frog. You’ve probably heard the tale – put a frog into hot water and it’ll jump straight out, but put a frog into cold water and then turn up the heat, and it’ll not notice anything’s wrong until the water boils…
We’re that frog, and the water’s already starting to bubble.
If you haven’t seen the movie, go see it. If you’re unsure, see it twice. Read the scientific literature, ask where the information comes from. If it comes from Exxon, or BP, or Shell, then ask yourself what their agenda might be, because it’s extremely difficult to get somebody to understand something if their paycheck depends on them not understanding it.