Friday, December 07, 2012

Verbatim Title of a Recent Presentation at a Major Scientific Conference: "Is the Earth F**ked?"

LINDSEY: It's been here all along. Underneath. You're just too damn stupid to see it.
ANGEL: See what?
LINDSEY: The apocalypse, man. You're soaking in it.
SPIKE: I've seen an apocalypse or two in my time. I'd know I one was under my nose.
LINDSEY: Not an apocalypse. The apocalypse. What'd you think, a gong was gonna sound? Time to jump on your horses and fight the big fight? Starting pistol went off a long time ago, boys.

-- Angel, Season 5.17 "Underneath", by Sarah Fain & Elizabeth Craft
Today in apocalylinks:

The question we all want to know the answer to: Is the Earth F**ked?
As for the big question—is Earth f**ked? ...there’s a choose-your-own-adventure element to the story that has yet to play out. Resistance, Werner argued, is the wild card that can force dominant systems such as our current resource-chewing juggernaut onto a more sustainable path. Werner hasn’t completed that part of his model, so we’ll have to wait to find out what happens. But during the Q-and-A session, he conceded that “even though individual resistance movements might not be fast enough reacting to some of these problems, if a global environmental movement develops that is strong enough, that has the potential to have a bigger impact in a timely manner.”

In other words, according to at least one expert, maybe the Earth is not quite f**ked yet after all. But the ultimate outcome may depend on how much, and how many, scientists choose to wade into the fray.
Read the rest here.

Michael Klare sums up the recent World Bank report:
Even if governments take vigorous steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report concluded, the continuing increase in fossil fuel consumption will result in “a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees C.”

This should stop everyone in their tracks.  Most scientists believe that an increase of 2 degrees Celsius is about all the planet can accommodate without unimaginably catastrophic consequences: sea-level increases that will wipe out many coastal cities, persistent droughts that will destroy farmland on which hundreds of millions of people depend for their survival, the collapse of vital ecosystems, and far more.  An increase of 3.6 degrees C essentially suggests the end of human civilization as we know it.

To put this in context, human activity has already warmed the planet by about 0.8 degrees C -- enough to produce severe droughts around the world, trigger or intensify intense storms like Hurricane Sandy, and drastically reduce the Arctic ice cap.  “Given those impacts,” writes noted environmental author and activist Bill McKibben, “many scientists have come to think that two degrees is far too lenient a target.”  Among those cited by McKibben is Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading authority on hurricanes. “Any number much above one degree involves a gamble,” Emanuel writes, “and the odds become less and less favorable as the temperature goes up.” Thomas Lovejoy, once the World Bank's chief biodiversity adviser, puts it this way: “If we’re seeing what we're seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much.”
As Tom Englehardt puts it in his introduction to the piece: "climate change is getting scarier by the week".

• Disasters making their way through production, should soon be in a theater near you!  Possible climate Pearl Harbors; -- or, as Gerry Canavan, from whom I got the link, suggested, climate fiscal cliffs.

We Can Cut Carbon Pollution One Third By Closing ‘Carbon Loophole’ Through The Clean Air Act... which Obama could do without Congressional approval.  If Obama doesn't get serious about climate change soon, then his only hope for avoiding history's remembering him solely for his inaction is the possibility that the world will be so f**ked that no one will have any time to think about history at all.

The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert says it's time for a carbon tax. Ibid's Hendrik Hertzberg says that said carbon tax should replace the payroll tax.

One climatologist predicts the 2012 drought will last through 2013.

At least large groups of Belgians are singing cheerful songs about the apocalypse

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