Monday, February 05, 2007

Frozen in Time

A friend and reader sent this picture of a frozen Niagara Falls in 1911. Thanks S.S.

There are numerous reports and ways to respond and spin the recent IPCC Fourth Report. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is paying 10,000 dollars a pop for contributions to their new compendium of science "faction". The POTUS will break yet another promise that "he will act once the science is conclusive". Because it is.

I suppose the Washington Times could run the story:

Global Scientists Admit There is a 10% Chance They are Wrong

But, the "Summary for Policymakers" should be read by each of us. Here is the PDF with the markups from last weeks meeting.

And, here is part of a piece by James Lovelock. It speaks to the issue that I believe we must address, if we are to rise to this occasion.

Accelerated warming now requires an accelerated response

Today humanity faces its greatest trial. The acceleration of the climate change now under way will sweep away the comfortable environment to which we are adapted.

Change is a normal part of geological history. The most recent was the Earth's move from the long period of glaciation to the present warmish interglacial.

What is unusual about the coming crisis is that we are the cause of it, and nothing so severe has happened since the long hot period at the start of the Eocene, 55 million years ago, when the change was larger than that between the ice age and the 19th century and lasted for 200,000 years.

The Earth, when in an interglacial period as it is now, is trapped in a vicious cycle of positive feedback, and this is what makes global heating so serious and so urgent. Extra heat from any source, whether from greenhouse gases, from the disappearance of Arctic ice and the changing structure of the ocean, or from the destruction of tropical forests, is amplified and the effects are more than additive.

It is almost as if we had lit a fire to keep warm and failed to notice, as we piled on fuel, that the fire was out of control and the furniture had ignited. When that happens there is little time left to put out the fire before it consumes the house itself. Global heating, like a fire, is accelerating and there is almost no time left to act. (clip)

Why have we been so slow, especially in the United States, to see the great peril that faces us and civilization? What stops us from realizing that the fever of global warming is real and deadly, and might already have moved outside our and the Earth's control?

I think that we reject the evidence that our world is changing because we are still, as that wise biologist Edward O. Wilson reminded us, tribal carnivores. We are programmed by our genes to see other living things mainly as something to eat, and we care more about our national tribe than about anything else — we will even give our lives for it, and are quite ready to kill other humans in the cruelest ways for the good of our tribe.

We still find alien the concept that we and the rest of life, from bacteria to whales, are parts of a much larger and more diverse entity, the living Earth. (clip)

Immediately, we have to take global change seriously, and do our best to lessen the footprint of humans on the Earth. Our goal should be the cessation of fossil-fuel consumption as quickly as possible, and there must be no more natural-habitat destruction anywhere. (clip)

Astronauts who have had the chance to look back at the Earth from space have seen what a stunningly beautiful planet it is, and they often talk of the Earth as home. I ask that we put aside our fears and our obsession with personal and tribal rights, and be brave enough to see that the real threat comes from the harm we ourselves do to the living Earth, of which we are a part and which is indeed our home."

But in fact, even as we see the job that lays before us,

We are frozen.

Yesterday, after attending a wonderful service for Molly Ivins, we all gathered at a venerable institution just east of the Capitol that I once had helped restore. I decided to choose that time and that place to tell a few key activists of an idea that I have developed to begin to bring about the accelerated action that humankind must now employ.

And even though we all agreed it was a fine idea,

We are all much like the great falls in the picture above.

We are frozen in time,

in our routines, in our work, in our frozen views

of yesterday's relevance.

Soon, a new spring will come,

and that river will awake,

and a mighty roar will fill the valleys,

and we will touch the sky.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, Oz, when will you be sharing your idea/vision with us?

9:57 AM  

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