Thursday, November 27, 2008
Global Warming and the Day of the Locust
One of the scariest things about this economic meltdown is that nobody is talking about global warming anymore.
Even as the planet burns.
Swarms of the crop-munching insects are sweeping across drought- affected areas and feasting on grass and weeds sprouting at roadsides following the rain. In western New South Wales, near the country town of Condobolin, a swarm measuring four miles long by 560 feet wide was spotted last week.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, meanwhile, is forecasting a swelteringly hot summer that will add to farmers' woes, as well as increasing the likelihood of bushfires and their ferocity. On the coast, amid rising ocean temperatures, record numbers of jellyfish have been recorded, along with giant schools of baby sharks.
And Canadian scientists have just discovered a new and potentially catastrophic source of greenhouse gases. Not in the sky or in the oceans, but in the ground.
Natural processes of decomposition of soil organic matter provide plants and microbes with the energy source and water they need to grow, and carbon is released into the atmosphere as a by-product of this process. Warming temperatures are expected to speed up this process which will increase the amount of CO2 that is transferred to the atmosphere.
Which could dramatically speed up the rate of global warming along with the methane bubbling out of the melting permafrost.
The effects of melting permafrost are not incorporated into any global climate models. Runaway warming in the Arctic alone could flip the entire planet into a new climatic state. The Middle Climate could collapse faster and sooner than the grimmest forecasts proposed.
And leads to the OBVIOUS question:
Do we want to be remembered as the generation that saved the banks and let the biosphere collapse?
But at this critical point in human history we are paralyzed. The economy is EVERYTHING. Cheap gas is good. Coal is clean.
As if we can simply ignore the problem and it will go away....instead of getting WORSE.
When in fact the puny forces of our economic house of cards are nothing compared to the awesome power of Nature aroused...
Isn't that amazing? And a reminder.
The economy won't kill us.
An angry planet will....