We are moving toward the end of 2007 and there are still people that question whether the planet is warming up and more specifically whether humans have anything to do with it. I have listened to and read some of the thinking of these people and it falls into several categories. First, and this is true, there are people, Republicans mostly, that cannot stand Al Gore – they still remember his self righteous sighing in 2000 - and are therefore tying the message with the messenger. Second, there are those that are natural contrarians, so they will naturally react negatively when every Hollywood star, starlet, celebrity and blow dried news anchor gets on the global warming soapbox again with moral self righteousness (the Polar bears are dying, what about the Polar bears?). Third there are those that state that the earth has warmed up before, so no big deal this is just a planetary cycle.
I am so tired of all of this dialogue. The earth is warming up and the scientific evidence is irrefutable, at least to this observer. The question is not is there or is there not global warming. The question is not whether we humans have anything to do with it. The question is managing risk. Whether there is global warming or not, as a species we should be planning for the worst. If we don’t, hundreds of millions of us will most likely perish over the next 75 years. Global warming, by all accounts, seems to be an exponential situation whereby the damage already done will make matters worse. Even if tomorrow humanity ceased all CO2 emissions, climate change would continue because of what has already been released, dumped and spewed into the ecosystem.
The situation is so clear. We must act as though the future of humanity is at stake. It is. If not, and the current view of global warming today proves to be wrong, well, we will have improved our survival chances. Finding renewable energy, conserving the resources we have, replenishing the oceans, freeing ourselves from dependence on oil exporting countries, stemming the incredible loss of species currently going on, better managing water, dramatic population control, and generally thinking globally will all have positive benefits. If there is not global warming, well, we have advanced human civilization. If the global warming threat is real we will have taken actions to save human civilization.
The risk to humanity from global warming looks to be the greatest threat to our species since we started imposing our selfish will on the planet a few hundred thousand years ago. It is only rivaled by a massive nuclear holocaust, which essentially would cause the same thing, a planet that could sustain only a fraction of humanity. The question then is one of risk. We must act as though we are at great risk. We must act immediately and with great resolve. We must redefine our commitment to reversing our headlong, self centered rush to destruction
Let us no longer debate hydrogen versus ethanol, water versus wind power, solar versus nuclear. We must say yes to ‘all of the above’ and move forward on all fronts. The great scientists and thinkers I have had the good fortune to interact with all believe that global warming is real and that we are partly at cause. Some of them even feel that the only way to stem it is to take radical steps such as outlawing CO2 emissions. When great minds start speaking that way, it is time to take action, in case they are right.
We live in a world dictated by our history and by all sorts of special interests that want to maintain the status quo. Let us reframe what ‘status quo’ means. Let us assume that status quo means death and that changing the status quo means life, if not for us then for our young children and grand children to be. As a species we have put ourselves at great risk, it is now time to address that risk, manage that risk and do so immediately.
We all grew up hearing that metaphor about “saving for a rainy day”. If that metaphorical rainy day came, we had money in the bank. If the rainy day never came, we had money in the bank. We must now work and manage our risk against a “rainless year”
Our future is at stake.