Flying low over southwestern Ontario, the group scanned the ground for boulders left behind by an ancient flood. The deluge, involving 2, cubic miles of fresh water from a prehistoric lake nearby, sent temperatures over the North Atlantic plummeting about 12, years ago, according to a theory advanced by scientists on the flight. The cataclysm -- triggered by the melting of glaciers at the close of the last ice age -- poses an urgent question for the present:
It is wishful thinking to cling to fantasies that life will return to normal. Reports on approaching climate change tipping points become direr. It is no longer a question whether climate change is occurring.
Instead, we should prepare ourselves for what can be done in our own lives and communities and learn to adapt to the new abnormal that has never been experienced since homo sapiens appeared during the Middle Paleolithic periodyears ago.
Sincewe have been warned about the impasse we are now reaching. Forty-six years ago, the Club of Rome commissioned a consortium of scientists, legislators, corporate leaders and economists to create the now famous Limits of Growth report.
That report predicted a systemic collapse of human civilization due to obscene economic growth and the depletion of essential natural resources. But leaders throughout the developed world flatly denied its conclusions.
While there is a 97 percent consensus among scientists globally that planetary warming is human-generated, only 15 percent of Americans, according to a Yale and George Mason University survey, know and understand this fact. The Trump administration and the remainder of the American population continue to embrace the fallacy that the scientific community is divided on the matter.
We now have the most anti-rational government in US history, one which categorically refuses to grasp the larger picture and instead chooses to assail the environment to leverage short term gains and profits. The question I pose is whether it is possible or reasonable to hold two seemingly diametrically opposed positions simultaneously.
I believe it is. One view holds that technology will save us — full stop. Such a utopian outlook is ultimately paralyzing because of the massive sums of money required to implement the new world-saving technologies.
Some regions can benefit, of course — ultra-wealthy Gulf states like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, can afford to build the fantastically expensive desalination plants that are required to turn desert expanses into arable land.
Other nations must therefore set their sights dramatically lower, and here the gap between what is needed and what technology is capable of becomes problematic.
Some environmental groups insist we merely need more wind and solar energy, in spite of the high costs of building wind farms, their comparatively paltry energy output, and their numerous downsides — bird deaths, unlivable noise. Hydroelectric dams are a much more economically-sound model for alternative energy, but the existence of a nearby river is obviously a prerequisite.
Some groups have even embraced nuclear power, claiming it is non-polluting. They ignore, forget, or disingenuously avoid discussing how enriching uranium creates tons of pollution, how there is no safe disposal process for the spent fuel rods that will remain radioactive for eons, how nuclear power plants are prone to accidents and meltdowns — particularly as catastrophic climate events become more frequent, as Fukushima continues to remind us.
For the techno-utopian set, there will always be some brilliant inventor who will sweep in at the critical hour and save us from ourselves. The solutions are always just beyond our fingertips, and we are supposed to merely prepare for the arrival of our techno-saviors by thinking positively about the future.
The leaders of this school of thought are the masters of positive platitudes, and nothing — not facts, science, or cold hard reality — will intrude upon their fantasy.
David Korten, writing for Yes! Korten is not alone, and I suspect most climate scientists and environmentalists agree with him. Thousands of scientists convene at climate conferences around the world to discuss their conviction that our political leaders and institutions will arrive at a moment of clarity just in time to launch a global Marshall Plan to save our planet and species.
This attitude is especially prevalent in the US, a nation whose unrealistic optimism stems from its historical capacity to be industrious, innovative and brilliant in finding solutions. Although this overly idealist attitude is not by any means utopian, it lacks a deeper understanding of the psychology of power, wealth, domination, and in particular economics.
The environmental crisis is intimately entwined with the economic crisis. We can dramatically reduce industrial agricultural practices and wean ourselves away from our meat-centric food habits.
And the technology is already available to rapidly convert to renewable energy sources. Within a reasonable time period—so it is believed—coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas can be phased out and replaced with cleaner geothermal, solar, wind and wave technologies. This is a noble view.
Its optimism offsets the otherwise growing sense of apathy, indifference and fear that climate change instills in billions of people who are experiencing environmental catastrophes at this moment. I want to believe that what they believe will come to pass. But there is a serious problem that nobody I am aware of in the popular climate movement or among scientifically-literate legislators have understood.Women and girls in developing regions may be impacted more from global warming than men and boys, due to social and economic inequalities.
A potential decline in profit for marine fisheries globally, which have been estimated to support the livelihoods of 10 to 12 percent of the world's population. The volcanic activity caused high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which led to rapid global warming. The eruptions are also associated with the break-up of the supercontinent Pangaea.
Everything is connected somehow--find out how as it relates to our environment. How do CO2 emissions, global warming, and the greenhouse effect affect biodiversity--everyone should understand how it’s all interrelated.
The ‘Trump effect’ as many Democrats than Republicans lose sleep at night fearing that manmade pollutants are ushering in an atmospheric cataclysmic event.
Think global warming will. Global warming could save humanity from a cataclysmic ice age, scientists claim. The pollution our species has pumped out for more than a century may have 'cancelled' a devastating big freeze.
The idea that Global Warming is a natural cycle is well understood from paleo data covering the past 1 million years. Is there a difference between current climate, and the natural cycle?
For the past million years the natural climate has oscillated between warm periods and ice ages. This shifting in and out of warm periods and ice ages is correlated strongly with Milankovitch cycles.