Tuesday, September 05, 2006

CO2: Humans to blame

The caption above comes from an article posted in News24.com today. My reaction - what's new?

This is not because I'm skeptical of the whole global warming concept, quite the opposite. I'm in fact flabbergasted that some world leaders still bristle at acknowledging the fact of global warming, and the policy implications thereof. Of course, therein lies the rub (policy implications). I'm afraid when considering this issue, the US's President Bush comes to mind most prominently. Which big-business-serving-president in his right mind would seriously consider conservation-based policies that may make life slightly more complicated for some of his main constituents?

But will reality eventually enter the current White House Administration's decision making process on this issue, can one dare hope for that? Many commentators have ventured strategies on how Pres. Bush can secure a lasting positive legacy. They play this game in the context of perceived failures in engaging in, and the management of, the Iraq War; the questionable approach to the 'war on terror'; domestic policies; etc. I for one, would love to see President Bush opt for taking the lead with a bold, principled and fact-based approach to addressing the very real issue of climate change.

Don't get your hopes up... I cannot see an administration that is hell bent on defeating the opposition at every turn, politicking and media-spinning every issue, being interested in following sound logic when deciding on this very important issue. The problem is not only that the policy implications of climate change is difficult to face, it is also a pet subject of the opposition party - making it a very unattractive issue to embrace.

One possible glimmer of hope is the sprinkling of Christian religious leaders in the US that are starting to embrace the issue of global warming from a bible-based angle. In addition to big business, bible-belt-America is an important constituent for the Bush administration. However, it seems like too many American Christian (evangelical) congregations are still hung-up with casting the Iraq endeavor as a religious calling.

While politicians haggle and struggle to hang on to votes (and money) climate change will slowly but surely continue. When will it be too late? The problem is that while scientists are finding new sources to prove the existence of global warming, from every conceivable angle, no one can say for sure when the first domino will fall to indicate the proverbial point-of-no-return. When do we reach the point when climate change has affected so many different natural systems, wiped out so many species, that life as we know it is doomed? Even though that damnation may play out over multiple life times.

For me the obvious approach should be to avoid that point by all means possible. It requires radical and bold political leadership from world leaders. If we don't know when we'll reach this point, if we haven't already, why take the risk of crossing it? It is mind-boggling that humanity can act so passively in the face of such a major risk.

I did hear an interesting comment in a discussion on this issue recently. The speaker said that if global warming lead to an environmental catastrophe, eventually after a few millennia or longer, Earth will probably recover. However, humanity will not be around to witness the recovery.

In such a scenario I can imagine our planet being quite well off...

CO2: Humans to blame: "Norwich - Air from the oldest ice core confirms human activity has increased the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to levels not seen for hundreds of thousands of years, scientists said on Monday.

Bubbles of air in the 800 000-year-old ice, drilled in the Antarctic, show levels of CO2 changing with the climate. But the present levels are out of the previous range.

'It is from air bubbles that we know for sure that carbon dioxide has increased by about 35% in the last 200 years,' said Dr Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey and the leader of the science team for the 10-nation European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica.

'Before the last 200 years, which man has been influencing, it was pretty steady,' he added."

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