The New Thirty Years’ War

6/27/2011 12:50:40 PM

Tags: energy, global warming, climate change, oil, fossil fuels, Michael Klare, environment, Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

oil-rigsLet’s see: today, it’s a story about rising sea levels.  Now, close your eyes, take a few seconds, and try to imagine what word or words could possibly go with such a story.

Time’s up, and if “faster,” “far faster,” “fastest,” or “unprecedented” didn’t come to mind, then the odds are that you’re not actually living on planet Earth in the year 2011.  Yes, a new study came out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures sea-level rise over the last 2,000 years and -- don’t be shocked -- it’s never risen faster than now.

Earlier in the week, there was that report on the state of the oceans produced by a panel of leading marine scientists.  Now, close your eyes and try again.  Really, this should be easy.  Just look at the previous paragraph and choose “unprecedented,” and this time pair it with “loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory,” or pick “far faster” (as in “the seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted”), or for a change of pace, how about “more quickly” as in “more quickly than had been predicted” as the “world’s oceans move into ‘extinction’ phase.”

Or consider a third story: arctic melting.  This time you’re 100% correct!  It’s “faster” again (as in “than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts” of 2007).  But don’t let me bore you.  I won’t even mention the burning southwest, or Arizona’s Wallow fire, “the largest in state history,” or Texas’s “unprecedented wildfire season” (now “getting worse”), or the residents of Minot, North Dakota, abandoning their city to “unprecedented” floods, part of a deluge in the northern U.S. that is “unprecedented in modern times.”

It’s just superlatives and records all the way, and all thanks to those globally rising “record” temperatures and all those burning fossil fuels emitting “record” levels of greenhouse gases (“worst ever” in 2010) that so many governments, ours at the very top of the list, are basically ducking.  Now, multiply those fabulous adjectives and superlative events—whether melting, dying, rising, or burning—and you’re heading toward the world of 2041, the one that TomDispatch energy expert and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet Michael Klare writes about [at TomDispatch].  It's a world where if we haven't kicked our fossil-fuel habit, we won’t have superlatives strong enough to describe it.

Thirty years from now, for better or worse, the world will be a far different place: hotter, stormier, and with less land (given the loss of shoreline and low-lying areas to rising sea levels)…. New powers, corporate and otherwise, in new combinations will have risen with a new energy universe.  No one can know, of course, what our version of the Treaty of Westphalia will look like or who will be the winners and losers on this planet.  In the intervening 30 years, however, that much violence and suffering will have ensued goes without question.

Source: TomDispatch 

Image by adamfarnsworth, licensed under Creative Commons. 



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Post a comment below.

 

easy
6/29/2011 9:50:57 AM
The religious fanatics have long told me the world is coming to an end. They are going to see to it. They vote for more drilling, more pollution, more environmental poisons, more business as usual. They buy into the lie that what's good for business is good for America. They try to encourage "underdeveloped economies" of the world to join our party and follow us while we continue to chase the white whale of more and bigger is better. Their policies will help assure rising waters, flooding, less global land mass. Then they support having babies, lots of babies, Viagra, Sex to sell products, down with abortions, down with birth control, no embrionic cell research because it messes with prescious human life. Where are all these people going to live with the reduction of land mass. Maybe we'll float on polluted seas. Our insanity is beyond understanding unless suicide is the goal.



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