Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is the Planet Lost?

There are experts who are saying there is no more than 100 years left for the planet as a place that can support its population – others give the wondrous place 200 years.
by Charlie Leck

Forgive me! I try to go light on Sunday mornings, but this is a subject we (and by that I mean all my brother and sister earthlings) can no longer ignore and avoid. Rush Limbaugh and his like be damned!

On March 1 of this year, a group of impressive experts gathered in Washington to discuss the dangers that our planet faces and how long it can survive as a place where humans can live and reproduce. Among other things, they heard from Meadows and Jorgen Randers, the authors of a book published 40 years ago, The Limits of Growth, which gave the planet very little time. Randers and Randers used computer modeling in an attempt to understand when our population might outgrow Earth and the natural resources it has.

What might happen to the planet after that time?
When the population becomes too large for the planet to support it, we would see a very “dark time” in which the population would plunge, the economy would suffer enormously and the general environment would crumple.

One of the things the gathering was told in March was that most of the data presented in the book by the Randers was accurate and matches, so far, the predictions that they set forth back then. Though you won’t enjoy it, you might want to read this report about the meeting that was published in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Now, fellows like Rush Limbaugh are going to pooh-pooh such reports as total nonsense, calling it Chicken Little rubbish; and therein lays the problem. How do we get an inattentive and uninterested population to listen to such dire predictions and take them seriously? Alas, I do not know! And neither does the group of incredibly bright folks who gathered on March 1.

There is also a remarkable analysis by the Wikipedia people on Wikinvest called Global Climate Change. I urge you to read it. It’s not bedtime reading, I assure you, and you’re not going to enjoy it, but it is time, for the sake of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, that we start facing up to things here on our planet.

The following comes from the Wiki analysis…

Scientists are predicting a number of adverse effects if the current global warming trends continue or increase in speed:
§ Melting polar ice caps will cause rising sea levels and coastal flooding; melting glaciers and warmer temperatures in mountain regions will lead to decreased snowmelts, intensifying worldwide water scarcity.
§ The influx of cold water from the poles will interact with the warming ocean water to cause oceanic temperature fluctuations across the globe, possibly causing global ecological damage as sensitive keystone organisms (plankton, for example) die in their new environments, leading to organisms that are higher in the food chain (tuna, for example) increasing in scarcity.
§ Warmer air and water would cause more intense weather patterns; for example, warmer water creates more powerful hurricanes as it allows more water to evaporate and creates faster winds, making hurricane season more dangerous.
§ Rapidly changing ocean salinity from polar fresh water could interact with the temperature fluctuations in the ocean to disrupt or even shift the Gulf Stream, an underwater current that is responsible for modern climate conditions. Were this to happen, weather patterns all over the world could "snap", changing drastically in a period as short as ten years. Worldwide climate shifts could have major effects on agriculture all over the world.

Quite sadly, as Jason Blackstock, in a recent article in Nature Magazine  points out, “researchers can’t regulate climate engineering alone. Political interests, not scientists or inventors, will be the biggest influence on technologies to counter climate change.”

Having been a relatively intense observer of the current political scene, I take Mr. Blackstock’s observation as very bad news.

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1 comment:

  1. Sobering news for a Sunday morning indeed. What is frustrating, is that there does not appear to be a clear approach to ward off the dire predictions.