What a ridiculous title for a post, nobody goes bowling anymore.
I’ve been feeling a little less than optimistic lately about the future. I’m just not seeing any real building urgency to our collective response to climate change. Maybe that’s because I recently read Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. the Climate” which brutally lays out the unappetizing reality of the future of life on our big blue marble. Mind you, that’s not the future IF we continue doing what we’re doing. Oh no, we’ve already cooked in (pun intended) a 2 degrees centigrade worldwide temperature increase which absolutely will turn presently occupied land into ocean area and generally wreak havoc on populations all over the planet. If we keep doing what we’re doing, which all evidence indicates that’s absolutely our intention, we will face 4 or 6 degrees in increased global temperatures. The consequences of that are that large parts of Earth will be much less hospitable to life.
In the annals of climatology, 2014 surpassed 2010 as the warmest year. The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human activity and poses profound long-term risks to civilization and nature.
“Climate change is perhaps the major challenge of our generation,” said Michael H. Freilich, director of earth sciences at NASA, one of the agencies that track global temperatures.
They expect the heat to get much worse over coming decades, but already it is killing forests around the world, driving plants and animals to extinction, melting land ice and causing the seas to rise at an accelerating pace.
“We’re seeing a significant acceleration in the past few decades,” said study lead author Carling Hay, a geophysical researcher at Harvard University. “It’s concerning for cities along the U.S. East Coast” where water levels are rising even faster than the world average.
“It’s definitely something that can’t be ignored,” Hay said.
You never have enough closets or oceans, apparently, so our ocean expansion program is going great guns! The only problem with that is that all this heating up, as well as many other of our very horrible current human practices is the coming collapse of our ocean fisheries. That 2/3rds of our planet (and growing!) from which we get most of our oxygen and has always been a reliable resource for nourishment is dying like a pro-Muslim comic at the Paris Ha Ha Hut. Looking at a complete collapse of global fisheries by 2050.
The researchers found that 29 percent of species had been fished so heavily or were so affected by pollution or habitat loss that they were down to 10 percent of previous levels, their definition of “collapse.”
This loss of biodiversity seems to leave marine ecosystems as a whole more vulnerable to overfishing and less able to recover from its effects, Dr. Worm said. It results in an acceleration of environmental decay, and further loss of fish.
Dr. Worm said he analyzed the data for the first time on his laptop while he was overseeing a roomful of students taking an exam. What he saw, he said, was “just a smooth line going down.” And when he extrapolated the data into the future “to see where it ends at 100 percent collapse, you arrive at 2048.”
So get to Costco and stock up that garage freezer with your tuna, chad, cod, sea bass, whatever sea food you like. You know that difficult choice between the wild salmon and raised salmon? That thorny dilemma is going away, so cool, huh?
If the take away from all this is that we have been absolutely treating our planet like it’s our unpaid intern for which we have no long term regard, you’re understating it. It seems as though every one of the growing library of alarming articles about just how bad things are getting has at least some notes of optimism. Everybody seems to want to leave the audience with those hopeful “there’s still time to avoid the worst case scenario” scenarios. But in each case it will take urgent action beginning yesterday, which is already yesterday.
The truth is that 200 years of carbon burning has had a collectively deleterious effect on our planet and even the growing awareness of such over the last 50 years has not made much of a dent in our overall practices. Our capitalist system will not allow the necessary changes to take place. No matter how alarming the reports, somebody will weigh the response needed against the economic hit we’ll take by acting, so we don’t act. And then the next report is even more dire, necessitating a more arch response, that will be dismissed even quicker. Our great American climate change deniers have internalized the delusional belief that all of these doom and gloom scientists are involved in a world wide conspiratorial hoax in order to bring about global socialism. But frankly, their insanity is only part of what holds us back. Even the people who understand that THIS… IS… HAPPENING… seem paralyzed by the prospect of the drastic actions necessary. They fall back on the wishful thinking that technology and engineering will think us out of this. We can keep on burning fossil fuels and factory farming and clear cutting forests and whatnot because we’ll figure out a way to sequester the carbon or dome our cities, or grow gills on humans or something. Think of the fantasy that is “clean coal.” They’re all dangerous fantasies that keep us from facing and addressing our reality.
Which means that there will be a day, or more literally several decades, of reckoning. And then the planet Earth that was the bountiful green and thriving home that my father’s generation grew up on (and my generation largely enjoyed only slightly diminished) will be gone for my grandchildren. Changes in land and sea that made areas more or less hospitable for life that happened over centuries are now happening over shorter periods of time that will necessitate the kind of human intervention that previously only took place in cases of war or natural disaster. But it will be happening globally, which means there won’t be unaffected peoples that can respond as humanitarians. Every one will be in the same boat competing for diminishing resources – clean breathable air, clean potable water, healthy, nourishing food sources.
It’s a dystopian future that is real, not a movie. We could have prevented it, but we were too busy having a good time. Bowling, or something.
The character in this clip from the Newsroom is actually laying out what the best climate scientists now believe is inevitable. There’s no exaggeration in what he’s saying. And yet it doesn’t feel real because we HAVE NOT BEEN LISTENING TO THE WARNINGS.