Friday, September 14, 2018

Monumental Stupidity

Everyone is fixated on Hurricane Florence. News networks have sent reporters down to the Carolinas to ride out the storm. And they're reporting -- windblown and soaked to the skin -- every fifteen minutes. But, Michael Harris writes, they're missing the point:

It comes down to this: Warmer air holds more moisture, intensifying extreme weather events like hurricanes.
Higher sea levels from melting ice caps raise the height of storm surges.
Hotter temperatures draw moisture from vegetation, turning forests and brush into tinder. That is partially why California has been fighting wildfires this year that cover nearly two million acres in the state.
And with the thawing of the permafrost in parts of Alaska, a potentially vast amount of greenhouse gases could be released if the process of warming continues.

This kind of weather doesn't happen by accident:

Despite all the global conferences, despite the policies of government, despite a token tip of the hat to alternate energy sources like wind and solar, despite all the hype surrounding electric cars, greenhouse gas emissions are rising. According to the Global Carbon Project, after three relatively flat years, there was a two per cent rise in emission rates in 2017.
Worse, emissions are growing at exactly the point at which radical cuts are needed to escape a 2 C rise in temperature that would plunge the planet into chaos, or even its death throes. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that a 70 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions must be made by 2050 to break the earth’s rising fever.
The planet is experiencing unprecedented droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires scientists believe are linked to global warming.
And Earth is heading for a tipping point. We have already passed the dreaded threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. MIT professor Kerry Emanuel, who is a prominent hurricane expert, thinks that rainfall could go up by a factor of ten in new superstorms.

Justin Trudeau bought a pipeline, Doug Ford got rid of the Green Energy Program, and Donald Trump thinks global warming is a hoax. It's monumental stupidity.

We're screwed.



The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, yes, yes, Owen - we are indeed screwed. UN Sec Gen Guterres noted this week that we've got until 2020 to avoid runaway global warming. We have to see drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Oh dear, we're already in the final trimester of 2018. Doesn't leave much time, does it? I'm not sure Ottawa will have the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline up and running by then. Our petro-pols have a lot of catching up to do.

2020-2023, that's when Camilo Mora's "climate departure" is scheduled to debut among other places in the Caribbean and Central America. That'll be a showstopper.

And then there's the 'better late than never' realization by the climate science community this year that, along with climate change, we also have to concurrently deal with overpopulation and over-consumption of our natural resources or the whole thing goes for a dive anyway.

So what had been a one-hour exam is now a three-hour exam but you only have an hour to finish it.

All signs suggest that the 2020s will be a pivotal decade for the survival of humanity and most other species.

Here's the scary part. My education left me ill-equipped to solve this ecological Trifecta but I do know, at least I believe I know, what would be needed if we were to make a serious attempt at dealing with these problems. We would have to rapidly slash our global population by about two-thirds (mandatory mass sterilization would do it). We would have to implement a mandatory and equitable distribution of the world's assets and resources. And we would have to implement what Schellnhuber calls the "induced implosion" of our fossil fuel industries.

One-two-three. Easy Peasy. Only we won't do it. The developed economies (OECD) won't hear of it. The emerging consumer economies won't budge unless we change first. The bottom tier, the Third World, they can't do anything significant anyway except, perhaps, to be the first to take it in the neck.

We are bereft of the universal goodwill, the commonality of purpose reflecting urgency, and the generosity of the haves to save the have nots to pull out of this nosedive. We arrogantly believe that someone else will do the dying.

Owen Gray said...

It's always somebody else's fault, Mound. What did Donald Trump tell his cheering mob the other day? "If I get impeached, it will be your fault!"

Rural said...

How do those immortal words go Owen? Something about bending over and kissing kissing goodby..... just a matter of deciding when that happens not if.
As for Mounds comment global floods and food shortages may eventually 'fix' the problem of population but far too late to save civilization as we know it IMHO!

Owen Gray said...

It's not like this is breaking news, Rural. But stupidity is its own curse.

e.a.f. said...

The only way we will see changes is if the insurance companies refuse to pay out. Once that happens and these disasters become 100% the problem of everyone, only then will we see governments change their position on any of this.

it was interesting to note that in one area, where they had replanted the grasses by the ocean, that flooding was less.

The Mound seems to have covered the rest, so no further comment.

Owen Gray said...

We're going to have to pay to mitigate climate cahnge, e.a.f. The problem is that nobody wants to pick up the tab.