Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Have a Bad Feeling About This

We are close to ten years into the 21st Century and I am getting a really bad feeling about it.

Let's look at some facts. These are not disputable.
  • Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It traps heat in the atmosphere.
  • There is more CO2 in the atmosphere than there has been at any time within the past several hundred thousand years.
  • More CO2 means the atmosphere warms up.
  • The polar ice caps are melting.
  • Decreasing ice caps expose more of the sea to the sun. White ice reflects solar rays a lot better than deep blue.
  • Permafrost is melting, which releases methane from the dead plant matter that is entombed by the ice within.
  • Methane is a far more effective/dangerous greenhouse gas than is CO2.
Add to that the point that there are very large and powerful groups who have a stake in the status quo and who stand to suffer some economic pain by any attempts to align the global economy away from burning fossil fuels. Many of those groups are using the same "confuse, confound and deny" strategy that the tobacco industry employed for decades. Only the stakes here are a lot higher than a few tens of millions of people developing emphysema or lung cancer.

The leaders of the world can conference all they want. But until people around the world realize that there is a problem that, irrespective of ideology or borders, has to be addressed, nothing will be done.

Nothing will be done. There will be no serious attempts to mitigate or roll back greenhouse gas production until near-disaster is upon us. The result will be that the costs imposed on humanity will be far, far higher than it would have been to try and correct things in the 1990s or 2000s. A far warmer climate will impose social dislocations and all sorts of costs, most of which we can only guess at.

The end result, I fear, is that when the 22nd Century rolls around, people will be cursing our memories with all of the fervor that they can muster.

And we will have had it coming to us.