Monday, September 24, 2007

always look on the bright side...

Responsible climate scientists like like Michael Mann and James Hanson and Andrew Weaver - and Al Gore, too - remain optimistic that the worst effects of climate change can still be averted. Let's be clear - we're still looking at significantly rising sea levels and all the rest, but these guys hope that we can limit global temperature rises to 1 degree, rather than 4 or 5 or 7 degrees.

They say the science shows this can still be averted. And they have faith that humanity will come around and do the right thing to slash carbon emissions, soon.

Mann said that we can do the same for global warming as we did for the ozone depletion problem - that was an international agreement that has succeeded in phasing out use of chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals that were depleting atmospheric ozone, which protects us all from bad sunburn and skin cancer.

They are optimistic because they have to be - they don't want to give in to despair and say "fuck it" and trade in the Prius for a Hummer and keep the heat on to 80 degrees.

I must admit, as I watch the Bush Administration continue to obstruct any meaningful effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (the recent APEC declaration pledged to reduce greenhouse gas intensity, which sounds useful but since intensity is expressed in units of greenhouse gas emitted per unit of economic activity, in fact means that absolute levels of greenhouse gas can STILL RISE while meeting this insidious, disingeneous and absolutely worthless goal) that I have a harder time feeling optimism.

But I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that collectively, we as individuals and we as nations realize that we need to do something fairly drastic, fairly quickly, to change our economies' reliance on carbon-based fuels. Because otherwise, we could well face the collapse of civilization. And that would make it very difficult to continue to look on the bright side of life.



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