18 January 2008

We're screwed.

Just attended a colloquium by Robert Strom, author of Hot House, a comprehensive overview of Global Warming, Climate Change, and essentially how screwed we are. Or, rather, our kids and grandkids are.

Items I gleaned from the talk:

1. Small planet-average temperature changes can result in large climate changes.
2. Atmospheric CO2 increases track almost directly with temperature increases.
3. Aerosols banned by the clean air act actually staved off global warming to a degree by making the atmosphere more reflective.
4. Even if we turned off all carbon-based pollutants tomorrow, the inertia of the global ecosystem is such that it's unlikely to avoid reaching a ~4ºC increase in average planet temperature, which is sufficient to cause catastrophic weather events (to date, the temperature increase is ~0.5ºC).
5. Extracting CO2 from the atmosphere is very expensive at ~$500/ton.

While I've always been a believer that whatever can be done to reduce emissions is a good thing, the end result of a global weather crisis is a greatly reduced population (say in the billions). This, ironically, is the most likely solution to the crisis, however, in that a pandemic would result in the population decrease necessary to exact emissions decreases.

So, either way, people die. To put it another way, we're screwed.

To be fair, though, the Earth is fine. It'll outlive us all.

1 comment:

FrankG said...

Just buy a Prius...that'll make everything better.