Climate Change Climate Chaos

Ovaltine, rocking chairs and slippers

Image Credit : NASA Earth Observatory

There’s no retiring, if you are at all aware of Climate Change and you care about what it will mean for the world your grandchildren or somebody else’s grandchildren will inherit.

You can’t kick back and potter around with…oh, I don’t know, train sets, grunging away at Wii console matches with your nephew, running a local trainspotters club, wearing ever-decreasing woollen cardigans, tanking about the countryside in a dilapidated classic motor, tipping your hard-earned into Caribbean cruises, or Spanish golf, tartan trews and chunky gold bracelets, donning the regulation old-fogey slippers and having a malted drink in the evening before bedtime.

You can’t switch off when you fully grasp the implications of science such as this :-

It’s behind a paywall, but I think it’s important, so I’m going to claim “fair use” and reproduce a little of the article here :-

PRINT EDITION HEADLINE : “Greenland poised on a knife edge : By 2040 it will be too late to save the ice sheets from catastrophic melting : we have to act now”

“Last chance to hold Greenland back from tipping point : 05 January 2011 by Anil Ananthaswamy : New data and models show that Greenland’s ice cap, the world’s second largest, is on track to hit a point of no return in 2040”

“ON 4 AUGUST 2010, the Petermann glacier in Greenland sounded a warning. A gigantic slab of ice broke off and the glacier retreated 15 kilometres, leaving it further inland than it has been since observations began a century ago.”

“That warning went unheeded at the UN climate talks in CancĂșn, Mexico, last month. Delegates left without agreeing drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, leaving the planet on course for 3.2 degrees C of global warming, and Greenland – the world’s second largest ice cap – heading for a point of no return. The suggestion is that Greenland will reach a tipping point in the early 2040s. After that no amount of action on our part can save the ice sheet. Unless governments dramatically up their game, the only thing that will change that date is natural variations in the climate, which might either hasten or delay the tipping point.”

“Greenland’s ice sheet holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by 7 metres. Ice melting at the surface and breaking off at the margins of the ice sheet is already adding up to about 300 gigatonnes each year. That accounts for about 25 per cent of the annual, global rise in sea levels…”

And it just gets more dire as you carry on reading.

But who cares ? I mean, who really thinks about what this implies ? And who is prepared to take action ?

Sea level rise has been consistent throughout the modern era, and is going to accelerate if Greenland melts down at the rate projected from the science reported in this article.

Plus, losing ice in Greenland will add extra Greenhouse Effect as white reflective frozen water is replaced by dark, non-reflective heating-up ocean water (this is called the albedo effect for any non-aware reader). And a hotter world is a nastier world.

And then you can forget history, culture and tradition – within a hundred years all the world’s major well-established cities will have to re-locate. And anywhere near the Equator will become virtually uninhabitable. And major crop-producing regions won’t, any more.

How much agricultural land will be parched ? Or swamped ? Want your low-lying country of choice to look like some parts of Pakistan, the world’s first global warming-induced “inundation nation” ?

If you care about your species, Climate Change has to be your concern. Not just a once-a-month payment to an environmental charity. Not simply a walk in a park demonstration. Not merely a token turning down of things on special Earth Hour days.

You can try to ignore your responsibility to get involved. You can avoid learning as much as you can. You can take early retirement from intellectual inquiry. You can curl up with a box of chocs in front of your favourite DVD, and you are at liberty to relax your weekend away playing football, or following the football on the telly or the radio or the web, or whatever. You can burn up the sky visiting a nice rural place with a beach. You can distract yourself with things that have no lasting significance, but in the end you will be challenged by the changing climate.

And when you’re switched on, you will never turn your back on what you have learned. You won’t be able to forget the ever-present risks of major global instability, suffering, hunger, want and disease.

You can’t ignore the threats to the energy infrastructure and what that could mean for the whole industrialised world. You can’t marginalise the impact that Climate Change is already having on the least-developed countries (and some developed nations, too).

You can’t see a photograph of Pakistan under water without being concerned. Which nation will get a Global Warming wipeout next ?

It can be hard to know what to do. What to concentrate on ? How to be effective ? Which collaborations are the most productive ? Which struggles are critical to put energy into ? And yet any one of us who is mature enough to learn, and has the internal resources to put their learning to good use, can do something useful, even if it takes time to find out what that something useful is.

This is not a moment to despair at the overwhelming troubles that could come.

This is a time to start an epic journey.

You have been changed. You are changed. And you will be changed. And then you will be able to create change.

I don’t need to ask you where your humanity is.

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