December 2008 Archives

50 Years Before the Turn

"There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting" - George Carlin

There is climate change ahead, no matter what we hear, or what we say.

Skepticism and denialism delay the perception of the climate problem, not the actual events.  Words have no direct effect.  When it comes to actually attacking the problem,  political speeches, songs, votes, wailing, advertisements, or teeth gnashing all - do nothing to delay the inevitable unfolding of climate destabilization.   Change requires physical effort.

bridgefogs.jpgWe have the science; we lack the political will.  Politics and Science are the oil and water that will never mix.  Scientists - thousands of them - study and model and track data on the rate of climate change.  There is solid data, clear causes and clear solutions.

Political stances, economic allegiances, or even skepticism mean absolutely nothing -and will not affect greenhouse gasses and climate change at all.  Political will is totally subservient to physical sciences.  You cannot repeal the law of gravity - same with climatology laws.  It is a pity that politics refuses to accept science in this matter.

Carefully modeled and predicted climate destabilization events are happening sooner than predicted.  The increase to the rate of change means calendar predictions are no longer possible.  The Arctic has turned from ice to open water - yet the summer prediction was supposed to be not until 2040, and up until very recently, the totally ice free scenario was scheduled for the turn of the century.  Expect it very soon. 

Now the Northwest passage is open, and permafrost is melting and Greenland and the Antarctic are losing mass.  The latest predictions on sea level change exceeds both time and height of previous predictions. The venerable UN IPCC report, only a few years old, is still valuable, but outdated.

The essence of the human conundrum is that when and if we decide to wrangle concrete, direct change, it may be too late.   Only actual physical interaction works - and it works slowly and very slightly.

Since our planet is so large, the oceans so deep, the skies so vast - the physics of applying change to the climate works very slowly.  Any human stimulus designed to cause a change - whether good change or bad - will have a long wait before it is seen. The lag is huge.  It is as if we are steering a boat in which we must apply rudder 50 years before the turn.  Or we can turn off the engine, but it will be 500 miles more before we slow to a stop. 

Since we have never seen or done such a grand effort before, few of us believe it, and few want to spend effort to turn the wheel. And no one wants to turn off the engine, especially if our efforts will not bear fruit in our life times.

Quite a pickle here.  In the words of an unnamed, distinguished, scholarly, award-winning biology professor: "We're fucked"



Update:  Climate scientists: it's time for 'Plan B'  Poll of international experts by The Independent reveals consensus that CO2 cuts have failed - and their growing support for technological intervention. 

The Bliss of Denial

The bliss of our Daybreak world has been so pleasant that no one dares to disrupt it.  What could possibly intrude?

daybreakss.jpg
Sic transit gloria mundi  
"Thus passes the glory of the world"

This 1922 print by Maxfield Parrish captured the essence of Western American Romanticism. 
Who would want to disturb this perfect moment?  We are in a dream state, and we do not want to be awakened - certainly not by the bad news that our perfect world is in danger.

As this painting worked to draw in so many, what painting could awaken us?.