What global climate catastrophe looks like ….
“When all the great galactic systems
Sigh to a frozen halt in space,
Do you think there will be some remnant
Of beauty of the human race?
Do you think there will be a vestige,
Or a sniffle, or a cosmic tear?
Do you think a greater thinking thing
Will give a damn that man was here?”
When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow, Chicago (Transit Authority), 1970
Last week, I sent a letter to President Obama asking him to petition the UN to undertake a Manhattan Project-type worldwide effort to combat global warming. “Our planet is sick with fever,” I wrote. “It is heating up at a rate never before experienced, at a rate not seen in nature’s historical records going back hundreds of thousands of years. A sick planet not recovering is a dying planet.” My objective was to convince him to take the problem out of the hands of lawyers and put it into the hands of engineers.
No doubt some will consider that act of letter-writing naïve. Probably it is. I fully expect a form letter in response. That’s all I ever get from elected leaders above the level of the state house.
The truth is that I feel helpless, which is not an emotion that is all that familiar to me. Like most men, I was raised to support my family, to protect and defend my loved ones, to participate in the life of my community. But the enemy who stands before me now like some towering Goliath is far too powerful for my poor mettle. Nothing I can do will prevent its depredations. And I dread the world that my children and grandchildren will have to live in when I’m gone. So I felt that I had to do something, no matter how impotent an action it might be … it didn’t make me feel any better.
There can be no doubt that the Earth, our home, is dying. The reasons are simple: We do not know how hot the planet is going to get; we do not know how long it will take for the planet to become so hot that the web of life is destroyed, or can no longer be sustained; and we do not know in what ways a fevered planet will affect life on Earth in the meantime.
Scientists, our secular priests, are unable to tell us what will happen to the only place in the entire universe that we know will sustain life. That is the terrifying subtext in this statement from the report that first put us all on notice about global warming twenty-five years ago: “Scientific evidence and theory indicate that as a result of such activities, the global environment is undergoing profound changes. In essence, we are conducting an uncontrolled experiment with the planet.” One Earth, One Future: Our Changing Global Environment; Cheryl Simon Silver; Ruth S. DeFries; National Academy of Sciences, 1990.
In an uncontrolled experiment, there simply is no way to know what the final outcome of experimentation might be. Absent any data to the contrary, any rational observer will have to conclude that the Earth is a dying planet. And any data to the contrary is fully absent.
But there are signs and portents of the shape of things to come. The fact that the planet is currently undergoing a mass extinction (Book Review: The Sixth Extinction) should be proof enough that the final outcome won’t be benign. And for some of our fellow human beings on the planet, the outcome has already been catastrophic. Accordingly, we need to stop arguing semantics — whether we should call it “global warming” or “climate change.” We need to start calling it exactly what it is: Global Climate Catastrophe.
I’m not alone in this opinion. In a recent article last March on DisasterMap.Net, Turmoil Around the Mediterranean Shores Illustrates Urgency of Climate Change Impacts, Dr. Ezra Boyd argues that — rather than view climate change as some remote future trend which will impact our national security, as current political leaders are doing — climate change is a threat to world stability, and to US national security, NOW.
“One impact of human-induced climate change has been a major drought around the Mediterranean Sea. This drought has sparked protests in Europe and contributed to civil wars in Africa and the Middle East. It has been a major factor fueling the war in Syria, which has created 11 million involuntary migrants and spilled over into neighboring countries, including U.S. allies. It also provided the ungoverned territory that propelled Islamic State into one of the top current geopolitical risks. On the Mediterranean’s southern shore, Libya and Egypt are two more drought-stricken states that have experienced civil conflict. In Libya, Gadaffi’s army was poised to inflict a massacre upon the city of Benghazi, which compelled a NATO intervention to prevent a flood of refugees from crossing the Mediterranean Sea toward France and Italy. But European countries have not escaped this turmoil caused by the drought. Indeed, the Mediterranean Sea is ringed by societies that are grappling with the migration and security threats caused, in part, by this impact of human-induced climate change.”
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