Friday, November 30, 2007

Earth: Harmless (Mostly)

With the doom and gloom predicted by some of the most panicked of the climate change predictors, the appellation given in Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's series may prove to be accurate, at least to an intelligent species not-based on earth, as we're not likely be here for much longer.

Seriously though, what people like James Lovelock, and others are saying isn't only that we've screwed the planet and its likely too late to do anything meaningful about it, they are also pointing out is we've altered almost every normal cycle on the planet with our demands for growth, comfort and consumption. The oceans aren't capturing CO2 at historical rates, CO2 is being released from topsoil, increased nitrogen is having a host of knock-on effects, ad nauseum.

Doom and Gloom is easy to preach, but it isn't enough. It must translate to a clarion call to everyone to effect change. Individuals need to reduce consumption and put policymakers on notice that they care. Enterprise needs to factor future profits and losses from environmental change into their current plans and projects. Policymakers need to grow a set and stand up and take the hard decisions, impose limits declaring things like, no new coal fired plants will be built until CCS is possible. We have the technology to generate power in sufficient quantities in other ways, even in the most rapidly developing economies.
Profits and business as usual can not continue, cooperation with developing countries must occur to enable them to not make the mistakes that the developed world made. And since we made the largest impact, and taught the rest of the world the method, the burden rightly should fall on the developed world to help everyone get through this.

Worldwide GHG emissions reductions targets over the next 20 years are a good start. But it won't be enough, the biosphere and natural cycles of the earth are already disrupted and need to be given a chance to recover. Stopping GHG emissions will simply stop the exponential growth curve of our contributions, not reverse the impacts we've already created or disrupt the new cycle that has started.

Powered by ScribeFire.