The Defining Moment: The Point Of No Return
by Rachel Olivieri / February 26th, 2008
If you woke up one morning only to discover that civilization has been on a roaring oil binge and in its catatonic consuming stupor had unceremoniously launched itself into the pit of despair, you’d want to know about that, right? It would be a leading news story on the front page of every prestigious newspaper like the NY Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, etc., right? Yet, I couldn’t find a drop of ink that suggests that life as we know it has already ended and real estate on the North Pole will be available soon. But did you see the latest eye-popping candy on the front cover of Victoria’s Secret catalogue suggesting that if we “buy more we save more” printed on paper from a forest near you? No, you didn’t read the print, silly me.
Seriously, “Late summer 2007, an area of Arctic sea ice almost twice the size of Britain disappeared in a single week.” Overall, about 50% of the Arctic ice has thinned out over the last fifty industrial years as a result of fossil fuel driven economies. Last years shrinkage broke the record for ice melt and 2008 is on pace to obliterate that record.
No, let’s be casual, I mean its only a leading climatologist from Washington State University who recently proved that the tipping point has been breached, and, like it or not, the euphemism shop to till you drop, has the drop on an overly distracted civilization. And it’s not like the issue hasn’t been heating up since “Inconvenient Truth” aired world-wide and every other climatologist in the business not employed by Bush has alluded to the fact that carbon emissions trap heat, and well, hot planets melt ice. No ice, no Malibu, inland properties can speculate new coastlines and build piers or set-up post-industrial villas for the likes of Bush, Cheney and the Wall Street gang.
A recent airing of Exploration hosted by Michio Kaku featured world-renown environmentalist Lester Brown, whose recent release, Plan B, 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, details the folly of a fossil fuel-based industrial economy and its impact on climate, ecosystems, economy, food production, forest, and population. All of which seems rather important, in my view, to the quality of life. Hello Hillary, Hello Obama, Hello McCain? Is anybody home?
Now, if you’re wondering, who’s Lester Brown and why should I trust his data over the governments? Brown is the founder of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. and the World Watch Institute and has been tracking carbon emissions and global climate patterns for the past thirty years and has the ear, apparently, of most world leaders. Bush, whose personal climatologist exists in the mythical space between his ears, answers only to higher authorities unavailable to common folk.
Brown’s four overriding goals are to “stabilize climate, stabilize population, eradicate poverty, and restore the earth’s damaged ecosystems. Failure to reach any one of these goals will likely mean failure to reach the others as well.” Now there’s a days work. After setting the stage for massive climate change, Brown defines a way out. Albeit, not a family vacation but the notion of living within planetary means has a comforting ring to it. Don’t you think? Let’s consider some of his findings.
In a climate nutshell, for every one foot rise in sea level one hundred feet of land mass is swallowed by the sea due to the shallow slope of coast lines. When the Greenland ice sheet melts, and it is faster than expected, sea levels rise 23′. When the West Artic Ice sheet breaks up, sea levels rises another 16′ totaling 39′ of sea rise, a real boon to mapmakers. Most coastal cities worldwide will be under water displacing 600 million people — sea-rise refugees migrating inland — overwhelming inland infrastructures ill-prepared to house, feed, or employ them. Hurricane Katrina, disaster writ small, pales in comparison to the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars of property damage and hundreds of millions fleeing inland with little prospect for a life.
Read all of it here.