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Reply #33: I think you're entirely correct; however . . . [View All]

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #9
33. I think you're entirely correct; however . . .
Edited on Thu Oct-11-07 08:05 PM by hatrack
We are on the threshold of a world where politicians, policy, platforms and laws are going to be increasingly meaningless. In the context of an increasingly unresponsive, self-absorbed and self-destructive political class at the levers of power, the prospects of meaningful reform of energy policy, economic planning, tax systems, resource use and environmental protection are as bleak as I have ever seen them.

Does anyone on this board really believe that any politician, faced with the beyond-the-worst-case scenario we now confront, is going to do much more than talk about tax incentives, ethanol, hydrogen research and maybe toss a few more buck in the can for "clean coal", solar and wind? Fiddling around the edges is not going to do the job, and I see nothing on the horizon but more fiddling in this age of the non-responsive answer, the sound bite and the pre-recorded focus-group-tested statement.

Let me speak more clearly about what we're confronting. Yesterday, Tim Flannery, Australia's leading climatologist, talked about where we are in terms of the atmosphere's potential to absorb long-wave radiation, which is the key that winds the greenhouse clock. For years, the IPCC's conservative assumption has been that at any atmospheric levels of CO2 below 450 ppm, we would likely see a global average temperature increase of about 2C - bad, but quite possibly manageable. Plans to limit emissions and control the thermostat, so to speak, had been based on that assumption.

However, the figures he released yesterday showed that, if you include all 30 of the greenhouse gases and calculate them as CO2 equivalents - that is derive one number expressing the potential of all these gases to trap heat in the atmosphere, we're already at 455 ppm. And since CO2 (to say nothing of the other 29 gases, which have a wide range of breakdown rates) takes about 100 years to decay, the CO2 from car you drove, the bus you rode, the leaves you burned today won't leave the atmosphere, taking their thermal properties with them, until about 2107.

In other words, we haven't even begun to reap the whirlwind.

Rapid climate destabilization is here, now. It is too late to "stop" it. The best we can hope for is to soften the effects so as to spare the next generations and the rest of nature the very worst of what potentially lies in wait.

And given what I've seen of human and political nature, particularly here in the world's richest, fattest, dumbest and most self-absorbed nation, I am not optimistic that we can even pull that off.
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