Friday, December 28, 2007

Global Warming - Stop Argueing - Take Action Now

As mankind faces the most dramatic natural disaster in history we are squabbling instead of taking action. Let's stop arguing and come up with a plan.

Our poles are melting, temperature and weather patterns are changing. Those are facts. Whose fault it is, man made or natural is almost irrelevant. The important thing is that we take action to prepare for the unavoidable consequences of climate change NOW.

Past climate changes have happened quick, the most recent having taken only about a decade. We have seen weather patterns change over the last few years, lost a bunch of ice, witnessed massive amounts of species going extinct and see a slow-down of the ocean's conveyor which regulates temperature patterns around the globe. My gut feeling is to say that we are in the midst of climate change. Whether it's caused by CO2, an active sun or any other cause is not the issue. The issue is... we can't change, avert or avoid it so we have to figure out how to deal with it and survive it's effects.

The focal point of all the issues surrounding climate change is energy. More specifically, present and future energy. The energy we currently use, which most say changes the climate, and the energy we will need in the future to supply more people and to stave off the effects of a changed climate. We need cleaner fuel now, not only because of pollution or the fact that we are running out, but because we will need much more fuel in the future.

The world economy is currently dependant upon CO2 emitting fossil fuels and we won't just be able to throw a switch to convert to another source so we have to start now. We have to stop spending billions fighting over the remaining oil. No matter who owns it, we will use it up. As demand increases and supply dwindles it will become more expensive and economic factors will dictate that we replace it. If we're lucky, mankind will be reasonable enough to spend more money finding new energy sources than fighting over obsolete ones. That's a long shot but there's always hope.

We will need more energy and there is no denying that burning oil and coal pollutes our planet. We have 2 choices if we want to survive as a species.

1. Come up with more, preferably cleaner energy.

2. Shrink our global population to a size that our current energy supply can sustain.

The first is preferable but considering our primitive human nature, the second is more probable. Let's let common sense overpower human nature and strive towards option 1.

Think about it. There are many sources of energy, known and yet to be discovered that we can use. Wind, water, tidal, and solar are clean technologies that we have explored and can improve. We have started tinkering with ways to use the Earth's magnetic field. There is gravity and countless types of cosmic rays that we haven't even tried to harness yet. Nuclear has been around for decades and if it doesn't blow up on you, it is extremely clean.

My suggestion, no, my demand is that mankind stop it's economic and religious squabbling and start taking the action we need for our survival as a species. It will be impossible to get mankind to act as one, but someone has to start. If the US trimmed it's government and military to a minimum, keeping enough troops and nukes to sustain sovereignty, we could save billions and use it to develop energy sources.

That scenario might even be good for the economy. Imagine all of the workers needed to make electric cars or cosmic ray powered toasters. Besides, whoever discovers a technology usually has a lead when it comes to selling it's usage or the products it spins off.

New energy won't solve global warming but it will help us deal with it better. Right now it's the only option we have so let's get on it!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Enjoy Christmas?

As I drive through suburbia this Christmas season I see home after home decked out in lights and decorations. In some neighborhoods it's like a contest to see who can string the most lights. Each year we have 2 homes that have extra power pumped in from the local utility. They have so many lights that you can probably see them from space.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting decorators down. On the contrary, our whole family enjoys the lights and every year we make it a point to drive neighborhoods and end at the 2 high-light homes. It's just that I wonder where the balance of holiday tradition and consumerism lies.

On the one hand, Christmas is great for the kids. It's fun to see them excited about getting stuff they have wanted all year, yes we're typical parents and always tell them to "put it on the Christmas list" when they ask us for big ticket items. Seeing them unwrap presents in front of the brightly lit fake tree is a joy to watch and gives us a sense of satisfaction knowing that we can make the kids happy for even a moment.

On the other hand, I think that while we are making the kids happy, we are also stealing a bit of their future. We are burning fossil fuels to power the extra lights and produce the things on their wish lists. That produces emissions and uses resources that they will not have when they grow up. So are we really doing them a favor by using their resources and polluting the world they will inherit?

I guess if I were an optimist I would say that we will find new energy sources and ways to clean the air, land and water during their life-times. Unfortunately I'm an optimistic realist and think that technology will solve some problems, but that it has it's limits.

Too many of us, world-wide are living a lifestyle that this planet cannot sustain and our children will pay the price in the not so distant future. They will breathe increasingly polluted air, drink dirtier water and pay higher prices for everything manufactured or grown.

So here's my dilemma...

If the future is bleak, shouldn't we live for the moment? But if we live for the moment, the bleak future moves closer that much faster.

What do to do? I'm not that selfless but somewhere deep inside I feel bad about saying go with the flow and live for the moment. Let the kids (and everyone else) enjoy today! It's the only day that's guaranteed and if tomorrow turns out to be as harsh as I expect, then I'd hate to not have enjoyed the good times.

It's in our nature to take all that we can get and live for today. Why fight basic human nature or worry about what may or may not be.

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Extinction. Are we next?

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British scientific journal, there have been five major extinctions during the last 520 million years. Four of them have been linked to warmer tropical seas. I for one have read enough articles and connected enough dots to know that we are seeing the beginnings of such an event right now. Not some time in the future but right now as I write this article. Don't be fooled by scientists that say these events take hundreds or even thousands of years. They happen fast, usually within a few decades. Fast enough to effect you, me and especially our children.

During the last great warming, 11,500 years ago, the earth warmed 9-18 degrees F in less than a decade. If humans change the composition of the atmosphere significantly enough, the possibility exists that an abrupt climate shift with substantial social and ecological consequences could occur. - Alley & deMenocal, 1998

Last month a U.N. network of scientists reported that 30 percent of the Earth's species could disappear if temperatures rise 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 70 percent if they rise 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Compare that to the predictions by the Woods Hole Research Center that say...

"Surface temperature increases are projected to increase 1.8-6.3 °F in the next century, with scientists' best guess being about 3.5 °F. Scientific modeling suggests that the surface temperature will continue to increase beyond the year 2100 even if concentrations of greenhouse gases are stabilized by that time. However, if carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase at present rates, a quadrupling of pre-industrial CO2 concentration will occur not long after the year 2100. Projected temperature increases for such an atmospheric concentration are 15-20 °F above the present day mean annual global surface temperature."

and you may realize that we have a serious problem, not in 100 years but RIGHT NOW.

I read an article yesterday that stated "Butterflies now extinct in Alps", last week I read one that stated 40 to 60% of the bees in North America had vanished/died due to a mysterious disease called Colony Collapse Disorder. One third of the world's food crops depend on pollinators. Without pollinators to produce the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that fill your refrigerator, we will be hard pressed to feed the billions of people that populate our planet.

Add the fact that dwindling oil supplies will make mass farming, i.e. food production and transportation more expensive in the future and you have a recipe for disaster. Food prices are going to rise dramatically over the next few years. Of course this will, as usual, hit the poor the hardest but even the rich will feel the effect. Think about it... If your neighbor has nothing to eat and you do, he will expect you to share willingly or he will use force to take his share from you to feed his family.

I'm talking War.

Sure, the Bush regime has already started what future generations will call the "Energy Wars" but trust me when I say that Iraq is just the beginning. It's over oil which provides lots of conveniences and many things we have come to depend on as necessities. The "Resource Wars" will be much bigger. Deserts are expanding and sea levels are rising. Just wait until the resources at stake are land, water and food.

To sum up this article, the answer to my opening question "Extinction. Are we next?" is no.

Man will not become extinct any time soon. We are extremely adaptable and technology will help us survive even the toughest conditions. We will find ways to pollinate our crops, we will flee the rising seas by moving to higher ground, we will use technology to fight the ever increasing wildfires and disease caused by higher temperatures and many of us will even survive the fight for our remaining resources. After all that, only a fraction of the current population will be left.

Maybe the suffering to come will teach those that survive a lesson they will heed...

Don't pee in the pond you live in!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Are You Pissed Off? I Am.

Are You Pissed Off? I Am.

I am fed up with our government, with our tax system and the way we treat our home, the earth. I'm a liberal but by no means bleeding heart. I'm environmentally aware but not a tree-hugger. I'm simply pissed off and quite frankly I don't know what to do except to vent my frustration in this blog and hope that talking about things will lead to answers.

We, including myself live in a world of contradictions. We know we are rapidly running out of resources yet we still drive SUV's. We know that we are changing the world's climate yet we still burn fossil fuels because it's comfortable and industry can make more money as oil becomes more scarce.

Politicians have already changed our "civil rights" to "civil liberties" with no one standing in the way as they rapidly chip away at what's left. Our leaders have recognized that fear is power and have used today's mass media to make us afraid. When I walk the streets of my home town or venture to the airport, I see more and more police "protecting" us from terrorists and child molesters. Don't get me wrong, I know they are out there but I feel that the threat has been magnified by the media and that we have already reached a point where the "protection" is causing more harm than the threat.

Join me in my quest to speak out and change things one voice at a time until we are an army large enough to make a difference. Let us read between the lines and use our knowledge to change things.

I'm not saying that I have solutions for even a fraction of the world's problems and I admit that as far as the environment goes, I am part of the problem. I'm not an expert on anything, I'm not exempt from wanting to live a comfortable life, but I do have a good portion of common sense and good intentions.

Join me if you think I make sense and post your own views if you think I'm full of shit. Either way, talking about it is the first step to solving any problem. Let's hope we can tackle some of the ones we face today.