Friday, November 04, 2011

We Really Can't Wait

I've just started reading a 1984 science fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson called Icehenge.  The first section (which in many ways seems a clear forerunner to his Mars trilogy) is set in 2248, and has the common glitch of futures written then of referring to the Soviet Union.  But it also mentions an earth troubled by resource depletion, environmental and political problems due to the burdens of a population of six billion.

And in the real world of November 2011, Earth's human population reached 7 billion.  It is the burden that is least talked about by environmentalists and politicos alike--the very definition of that wearisome cliche, the elephant in the room.  It is the elephant, and the room.

It's a major factor in how hard it is going to be for the planet to respond to not only dwindling fossil fuel and the consequences of immense environmental poisoning and other destruction, but to the Climate Crisis.  

It took about 24 hours for the environmental community to pick up on Politico's report of some surprising statements by President Obama, pretty much stating an environmental case against the oil pipeline, the Keystone/oil sands project that Bill McKibben and other Climate Crisis activists have been agitating about for weeks.  So in the past couple of days a number of stories about it have emerged, in the mainstream press as well as enviro sites like Real Climate.   So whatever is going to happen now, is not going to happen quietly.  Update: I forgot to note that McKibben's group and allies are converging on Washington this Sunday, and asking supporters to join them. 

The Real Climate piece again quotes James Hansen as saying this pipeline will mean "game over" for attempts to limit the effects of the Climate Crisis.  But then there's this story, indicating that despite all the talk and so-called treaties, the amount of greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere jumped significantly in recent years, so that their concentration in 2010 is higher than the worst case scenario of climate experts four years ago.  That's not encouraging, let alone good news for attempts to save the planet from our worst.

Though there's been little doubt in the science--the case only getting stronger and more detailed--the media has waxed and waned on the facts of global heating.  In view of that recent study, more media outlets have seized the opportunity to call it settled.  One predicted phenomenon that follows from this may also be gaining credibility: that extreme weather is becoming the new normal.  All of this as folks are getting wind of a very grim IPPC report in the works.  The Climate Crisis is going to drive the future, and even though it's pretty scary--even paralyzing or surreal to consider--it's much better to recognize this now instead of when panic sets in.

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