Monday, June 23, 2008

NASA warming scientist: 'This is the last chance'

Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth's atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

It's going to be business as usual until the problem is so pronounced that everyone in the world -- with the obvious exception of the arbitrarily wealthy -- will feel it. After that -- panic.

In the meantime let's hope Ray Kurzweil's dead-on about this Singularity thing.

(Thanks to Nick Redfern.)


slattern23 said...

I agree. I don't think we have anything close to the will or the technology to reverse climate change, or even stop it in its tracks. And by "we" I mean North America, Australian and Europe (where carbon output continues to increase dramatically - yes, even after they signed Kyoto. Imagine!) And then there's the rest of the world.

There's also a delay effect with greenhouse gases of up to a century. At least some of the carbon that's warming the atmosphere today is from the coal stoves that my grandparents heated their Dublin homes with in the war. Even if every car and aircraft and factory were to vanish from the earth today, climate change would continue to get worse for a century or more. I'm not a misanthrope, but I don't believe people are capable of projecting their consiousness or their concern that far into the future and adjusting their behaviour accordingly. Clearly a few people can, but not enough.

For now, the best thing that can happen to the world (that doesn't involve the nightmare of mass starvation) is high oil prices - which is why I'm rooting for $250.00 a barrel or higher. And for tomorrow, we try to adapt and save as much of our civilization as we can. We may not find that a comforting prospect, but in a thousand years or so our descendants will look back and say "Well, it wasn't THAT bad".

Of course, it will have been pretty fucking bad. That's why I have to laugh whenever I hear the UN telling us we need to plan for there being nine billion people by 2050 or whatever. Sorry guys, we need to plan for there being a billion or less by 2050.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that drastic action is not in the near future for us. We live for today, and not tomorrow. We will have to learn to adapt to the circumstances we create, like it or not.


dmduncan said...

Yeah, I think the last chance came and went, and now the question is: What are you going to do to prepare and how do you teach your children to prepare?

To quote Porky Pig: "Th- th- th- th- th- that's all folks!"

Mac said...

For all of my pessimism, I don't think the human species will perish. But our numbers will be dramatically reduced and what we like to think of as "civilization" will topple under its own weight.

In a sense, we're now living a farce.