Insights · October 22nd, 2008
According to an article currently up at CNN, the global climate is changing faster, stronger, sooner. This news is not surprising. The Snow and Ice Data Center, which tracks the Arctic situation among other responsibilities, reported in the end of summer 2008 survey of the extent of Arctic Ice after the summer melt period that the ice had declined to the second greatest extent in their records, topped only by 2007. Moreover, the ice, while covering a bit larger area, was at the same time thinner, meaning the total mass of ice was the lowest in their record keeping.
The urgency of responding to climate change is not diminishing, but the political will to respond may take a hit from the global financial crisis. If so, it will be unfortunate because beneath the financial crisis we find the critical factors of climate change and fossil fuel use and these will continue. In fact, the financial crisis is likely to make the situation worse in terms of climate, because lower demand for fossil fuels will temporarily decrease prices and thus decrease a sense of urgency in developing the next energy era. All of this could add up to greater problems in the medium to long term.
Agreeing with that point of view is an excellent article by Johann Hari, columnist for The Independent in the UK. His piece, “Don’t kill the planet in the name of saving the economy” is blunt and to the point. Given current trends, a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will be “locked in.”
That condemns Bangladesh and the islands of the South Pacific to drowning.
But, if we turn our attention away from global warming to other issues deemed more important, then trends will likely get worse, leading to greater termperature leaps. Another degree Celsius and Siberian peat bogs melt and release methane, causing temperatures to move toward 4 or 5 degrees Celsius higher (7-9 degrees Fahrenheit).
The good news is that measures to tackle global warming and next energy needs are also the ones that will help revive the economy. No time to back off now.
Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.