Thursday, July 26, 2012

Global Warming

Rolling Stone magazine is way ahead of the rest of the so-called mainstream media.  Bill McKibbin's sobering article, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math, tells me that we, our children, our grandchildren, etc., are pretty much doomed: are some hard numbers about climate change: June [2012] broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Not that our leaders seemed to notice. Last month the world's nations, meeting in Rio for the 20th-anniversary reprise of a massive 1992 environmental summit, accomplished nothing. Unlike George H.W. Bush, who flew in for the first conclave, Barack Obama didn't even attend. It was "a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago," the British journalist George Monbiot wrote; no one paid it much attention, footsteps echoing through the halls "once thronged by multitudes." Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.

McKibbin's article focuses on three numbers:

  • The +2 degree Celsius consensus that is far too lenient.
  • 565 Gigatons of carbon dioxide: the amount that we can pour into the atmosphere and still--maybe--keep under the magic +2 degree figure.
  • 2,796 Gigatons of carbon dioxide: what will result from the fossil fuels we already plan to burn.

I cannot do the article justice here--it's a meticulously researched, well-written, lengthy piece.  I am stunned and sobered by how gloomy a picture it paints.  Please just hop over there and take a look for yourself.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks.
    I had never seen the third number, or if I had, hadn't made the connection to it's significance.