Thursday, April 02, 2015
Getting Buried in the Babble
It's been a while since I posted on a) the polar ice melting or b) sea level rise or c) a whole lot of other things. It's not for want of following those issues, it's from becoming too immersed in them. On climate change problems, the research is coming in so fast that it's hard to keep the studies in any sort of coherent order. It's sometimes quite difficult to tell which report supercedes another or when they should be taken together to reveal a more comprehensive picture.
It's a blur.
I know a lot about rearmament and arms races underway right now, almost too much to convey any accurate sense of it.
There's a powerful human element too. It just becomes much too goddamned depressing to keep reading about something you realize can be critical to countless millions of people that is progressively worsening and so often little if anything effective is done to thwart it.
Taken cumulatively it leads to a powerful sense of resignation and defeat. As I've mentioned before I have had some insightful but completely informal conversations with genuine, honest to Odin, climate scientists over drinks and it didn't take too many swigs for them to go from "we can do this" to "oh, we're so screwed."
It's easy to blame governments but many, I believe, are trying to respond to these looming emergencies only they're working from projections that are long out of date. I've looked into how some West coast municipalities are preparing for sea level rise. They're still going by early IPCC forecasts of 2-3 feet of rise this century when current research suggests 3-4 metres. Which means that the time and money and effort they're investing in adaptation responses may be pointless.
There are other governments, such as Florida's, that thing the best response to sea level rise is to forbid government employees from speaking the words "climate change." There's nothing laughable about it for it's an example of governments that claim the ultimate right to deal with such things just sweeping them under the carpet.
I know that climate change is real. I have white-sided dolphins in their thousands, transient orca, humpback whales, California sea lions and countless millions of sardines that have migrated into our waters from the south and they're basically incapable of lying about what's really going on. We've even got resident brown pelicans now. I'm pretty sure those thousands of seal pups showing up starving on California beaches are in such dire condition because their food, those masses of sardines, have moved north.
I know climate change is real and it's here today from the fact that, once again, we had no real winter and the snow pack is gone from our lower mountains entirely. You can still see snow covered peaks if you look 40-miles away to the mainland but that's doing us absolutely no good whatsoever.
Recent studies indicate that the 2 degree Celsius warming target our governments supposedly intend to stay within to have some reasonable chance of avoiding runaway global warming is overstated. The science now suggests the tipping point is 1.5C. Here's the kicker. We know from the greenhouse gases we've emitted that we've already locked in 1.5C. And we know that long after Year 2100 has come and gone the existing GHGs we've already emitted will still be warming the planet. That's our goal, for humanity to survive in some state for another 85 years? That's it? Yet that does indeed seem to be the case.
I expect that's what comes from being the only species that can contemplate its own demise. What an amazing quality to waste.
So, yeah, the polar ice caps are melting faster than we ever imagined and at a steadily accelerating rate. Most of our glaciers are in retreat. Species, plant and animal, marine and terrestrial, are migrating north and south away from the equator. Even governments that are trying to respond wind up working from outdated projections that often render their efforts meaningless.