Friday, March 02, 2012

We're So Screwed

What's most infuriating about the fierce debate over global warming is everything that's left out.   The denialists act as though the fact and severity of warming is the issue instead of the larger issue of our persistent refusal to live in harmony with the only life support system we have, our biosphere.

What limited plausibility the denialists can muster vanishes when the discussion moves along the list of threats we face.  Here's my list - desertification, deforestation, air/soil/water contamination, the freshwater crisis, the onset of cyclical and sustained droughts and floods, resource depletion and exhaustion, species extinction and migration, overpopulation and population migration, sea level rise, severe storm events of increasing severity and frequency, seawater inundation, and ocean acidification.

Speaking of the latter, ocean acidification, a new study finds that man made pollution "may be turning the planet's oceans acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years."

 An international team of researchers from the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands examined hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, including fossils wedged in seafloor sediment from millions of years ago.

They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die-off -- a mysterious period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago.

Though the reason for the carbon upsurge back then remains a source of debate, scientists believe that the doubling of harmful emissions drove up global temperatures by about six degrees Celsius and caused big losses of ocean life.

The scientists note that acidified oceans eventually wind up with sea life that adapts to their changing states.   The problem with that is that we live in a world where a great percentage of the population is dependent for survival on adequate supplies of the existing lifeforms.  We don't have the capacity to wait until the next species evolve.

Maybe we've got to resist getting bogged down in pointless debates about global warming.   Maybe we need to say, "Oh yeah, well what do you propose we should do about all these other things, dumbass?  These threats that are tangible, even visible to the naked eye from space, utterly undeniable.  Tell us what you want done about them?"

The simple fact is that these problems are all linked.   They're actually symptoms of one, much larger problem that we have to deal with if we're to solve any of them.   That problem is our inability or unwillingness to accept that we need to live within the finite, physical limits of our planet.   Only once we accept that and begin organizing our societies to conform with that will the solutions to all of these threats, each and every one of them, become obvious and obviously imperative.

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