How’s that for a “provocative” and “alarmist” blog post title? Huh? Huh?
While many of us would be more comfortable thinking we have decades – if not centuries – to act on climate change, it would appear the planet has other ideas:
“…For the past 30 years, satellites have been tracking a stunning decline in the sea ice and snow cover blanketing the Arctic. Now, new research has found that the thinning and melting sea ice is having a much more significant impact on global climate change than was previously thought.”
DeSmogBlog reports record temperatures in the Canadian Arctic:
“…While world media have been distracted by cold temperatures in Europe (December averages in the U.K. were 5.2°C [9.4°F] below normal), a vast pocket over northeastern Canada has been hitting heights that were not just unprecedented but, until this year, unimaginable.
…As Bob Henson reports at the NCAR & UCAR Currents, the Canadian low Arctic has been unseasonably, unreasonably balmy, with the largest anomaly rising to 21°C [37.8°F] above normal. Hudson Bay and the waters around Baffin Island remained open well beyond usual, suggesting that the risk for an extraordinarily low summer ice season is built into the works…”
Climate change is a non-linear process: it is very possible climate will undergo significant changes in a relatively short time frame:
“….nonlinear process spurred by an increasing forcing and amplifying feedbacks is better characterized by the doubling time for the rate of mass disintegration, rather than a linear rate of mass change. If the doubling time is as short as a decade, multi-meter sea level rise could occur this century. Observations of mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica are too brief for significant conclusions, but they are not inconsistent with a doubling time of a decade or less. The picture will become clearer as the measurement record lengthens.”
Change: It needs to happen. It must happen. It is going to happen
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this information.
Michael Tobis (MT) over at “Only in it for the gold” has been musing on the scale of the challenges we face:
“….do you really think the world is handling its challenges well? Do you see any immediate prospect of improvement?
First of all, food production is practiced as an extractive industry, dependent on depleting aquifers, petroleum and natural gas. That’s unsustainable by definition.
Secondly, resource allocation is inequitable, we are running out resources, and the implicit promise of universal development is looking to the less developed world like a sham about now.
Thirdly, despite the fact that our economies are grossly overheated, the idiot bankers have gotten us in a situation where if we don’t resume growth our whole organizational pattern will collapse.
Fourthly, after some decades of improvement, the momentum has resumed toward xenophobia, isolationism, and ethnic blame. In particular, Christianity and Islam are about as friendly now as they were during the crusades.
Fifth, the cheap petroleum is running out and the next cheapest replacements double the carbon burden of the atmosphere and oceans, which leads us to sixth, the atmosphere and oceans are already about as full of carbon as we can reasonably risk.
Seventh, in the middle of all this nobody gives a rat’s behind about nuclear proliferation which we all used to lose a lot of sleep about.
Eighth, the world’s major power is controlled by obstructionist elements and is redeveloping a fascist streak that had been in remission. The fact that Africa is dying of AIDS and hunger, and that species extinction is accelerating, now seem to disturb nobody’s sleep anymore amid all this. Did I miss any?
The good news? Well, Twitter is pretty cool. So is my iPhone; so are movies on demand which after decades of promises have finally arrived. But somehow I don’t think that sort of thing is enough…”
Although someone did manage to cheer MT up with a great quote from science fiction author Bruce Sterling:
Our capacities are tremendous.
Eventually, it is within our technical ability to create factories that clean the air as they work, cars that give off drinkable water, industry that creates parks instead of dumps, or even monitoring systems that allow nature to thrive in our cities, neighbourhoods, lawns and homes. An industry that is not just “sustainable,” but enhances the world. The natural world should be better for our efforts and our ingenuity. It’s not too much to ask.
You and I will never live to see a future world with those advanced characteristics. The people who will be living in it will pretty much take it for granted, anyway. But that is a worthy vision for today’s technologists: because that is wise governance for a digitally conquered world. That is is not tyranny. That is legitimacy.
Without vision, the people perish. So we need our shimmering, prizes, goals to motivate ourselves, but the life is never in the prize. The living part, the fun part, is all in the wrangling. Those dark cliffs looming ahead — that is the height of your achievement.
We need to leap into another way of life. The technical impetus is here. We are changing, but to what end? The question we must face is: what do we want? We should want to abandon that which has no future. We should blow right through mere sustainability. We should desire a world of enhancement. That is what should come next. We should want to expand the options of those who will follow us. We don’t need more dead clutter to entomb in landfills. We need more options.
It needs to happen. It must happen. It is going to happen
Did it also cheer me?