Friday, February 02, 2007

Climate Change Upon Us

Serving my own selfish ends the aspect of the recent widespread coverage of the progression of climate change that caught my attention is that the Great Barrier Reef is within 10 years of becoming functionally extinct. I never got to see the Coral Reef on a brief sojourn to Australia late last year when I was based in New Zealand so I am strategising how to get back there and then of course quivering about my grandchildren’s future. Overall it has been a week of worrying developments. First up, RTE aired ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ which is bad enough in its own right. In the movie, Dennis Quaid acts as a grim reaper environmentalist warning some reluctant politicians of impending doom only for the climate to actually go hay wire a few days later. The weather has always been used as a villain in disaster movies but now that the events of such a brainless blockbuster could be some way prophetic is very worrying. (And no all you scientists I am not suggesting events would actually unfold in a form anyway similar to the events of the movie, I merely refer to the sense of immediacy and urgency of findings which I will discuss now so bear with me).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report this morning warning of rising sea levels, rises in global temperatures and as a consequence stark weather changes. Most notably the report in using the term ‘very likely’ in effect brings to an end the debate on whether or not humans are to cause for global warming. Put simply the way we live is contributing to global warming.

I find talk of minimal changes in temperature and gradual changes in sea level to be very intangible and difficult to relate to and something which doesn’t really convey a sense of threat. The difference with today’s report is that it brings to an end the era of fear mongering or merely being a prophet of doom, it confronts us with a very real threat. All of us and especially countrys in a normally vulnerable position are at more risk than ever. Drastic food shortages, water shortages, entire agricultural livelihoods wiped out – these changes which are bandied about as the results of our carbon emissions are upon us now – not by century’s end or by some other benchmark which really means nothing to us. An entire chapter is devoted to Australia, its worst droughts in history, cracked arid land where wheat once grew, all being endured now during their hottest Summer. The EPA has a nicely put together press release and refers to the central message from the report that scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response

No comments: