Friday, September 11, 2009

Stolen from Mind Over Blather

A Brilliant Synopsis From a New Blog

regular or extra crispy?

They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent…Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences …We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now . . .

- Winston Churchill, November 12, 1936

The science is beyond rational dispute. Sure, there are those who will continue to deny or find “reasonable” excuses for delay. But in the end it will come down to a Hobson’s Choice. There will be no options. The decision will be the inevitable consequence of indecision. It may come down to who lives and who dies. It also may come down to a more simple proposition – when they die – most of them, maybe all of them – as a consequence of disease, famine, war, or worse.

Paleontologists and biologists are increasingly referring to the present era as “sixth great extinction” because of the unprecedented – and increasing – rate of species loss. They aren’t talking about polar bears. One quarter of the world’s corals have already died – the rest are facing imminent threat and collapse. Marine life is in full retreat. The oceans are approaching a level of acidification beyond which they will no longer be able to absorb CO2.

These facts apply to conditions affecting two-thirds of planet’s surface. The remaining third – the dry land we inhabit – is equally challenged. Massive losses of vegetation. Desertification of once arable land. Failing aquifers. Rapidly melting glaciers and ice sheets. More and larger forest fires.

And then there’s what everybody thinks of when someone says “global warming” or “climate change” – the accelerating increase in average global temperature. A few years ago, the consensus was that a one to two degree rise by the end of the century was likely. Now it’s more than twice the hike in half the time. Worse, we’ve already put enough greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere to push this trend forward for centuries into the future.

This is not conjecture. It is not some scheme cooked up by a cabal of tenured Ph.D.s with a secret design for world domination. It’s not a foreign plot aimed at making the US less competitive. It is not the plot line in a Michael Moore script or Al Gore’s gambit for another Oscar. It is fact. It is inescapable.

But that may be too much to get your mind around. It doesn’t exactly require a leap of faith – just the same degree of imagination required to translate a national security briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in US” into a modest increase in airport security or take the information in a 2001 article in Scientific American titled “Drowning New Orleans” into a program to upgrade the levees and review the evacuation plans.

This is just not that hard.

But in case you are still not persuaded that we are well and truly screwed, we can drill this down to a personal level. Instead of greenhouse gasses, worry about carcinogens – chemicals that cause cancer. Burning fossil fuels dumps vast quantities of cancer-causing compounds into the air every day. You are breathing them in. Your children are awash in them. They are another inescapable fact – and they will kill you, or someone you know or love – and there’s almost nothing you can do about it.


And it’s really not that hard to do.

We have the technology – right now – today – to completely transform our energy economy from one based on fossil fuels to one based on totally free fuel sources. Solar. Wind. Tidal. Geothermal. It’s just not that big of a deal. It will cause a little bit of displacement. It will also create tremendous economic opportunity. And vastly increase our national security. And balance our trade deficit. And much more.

It will also make us all healthier. And lower our healthcare costs. And, most importantly, make it much more likely that you, and those you love, and those who play some large or small role in your daily life, will avoid the pain and suffering of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

We can do something now – or wait for the inevitable “Pearl Harbor Moment”. Now will cost a lot less. And waiting for Pearl Harbor carries with it the very real possibility of defeat.

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