Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Thursday, 15 September 2005

Climatic normality has gone, because we have destroyed it. We have to get into our heads that the twentieth century, impaired though it was, is the last normal century we humans will ever see. So this not a time for normal action, for acting the way we have always acted--slow, late or never. We must act at war-speed. The numbers show that we are decades too late to stop global-overheating, but we can at least stop global pollution. We can stop using the sky as an open sewer. Then there will not be quite so many atmospheric vultures coming home to roost.

Carbon-dioxide is rising at about 2 parts per million a year. We are now at 380ppm. Last year the scientific community said we must not go past 500ppm. That gave us a maximum of 60 years to get ourselves off the Black Stuff, the coal and the oil, not counting the lag between cause and effect. Later in the year that was revised down to 450ppm. Not so good. Then the international conference in London at the beginning of this year revised that down to 400ppm. So now we have 10 years to give up our Black addiction--which obviously means that we passed the point of no-return decades ago.

As Einstein said after the first atomic bomb was exploded--'Now everything is changed, except man's thinking.' The climate has been changed for ever; the normality of the past 10,000 years has gone, because we have destroyed it by burning hydrocarbons--and it doesn't matter if that means fossil ones, bio ones, whatever. If it raises the level of carbon-dioxide on Planet E it is bad. BAD.

It is even more basic than science 101 that the Black Stuff is all the surplus carbon-dioxide that was taken out of the sky millions of years ago, and that if that ancient carbon-sequestration had not happened the human race would not be here. But instead of seeing that its continued presence in the ground was essential to human existence, we thought it was there for us to make a buck, so we have been pumping it out of the ground into the sky as if there was no tomorrow--thus making sure that there will be no tomorrow for millions of us. We have been winding the clock back hundreds of millions of years to a time before we could exist. Vast numbers will pay the ultimate price for that folly. Some say billions will pay it--that the global population will be cut to about a billion.

Even our much self-vaunted buildings will suffer from our ingrained habit of driving about in fossil-mobiles. The natural protective coating that forms on the steel rods in reinforced concrete is destroyed by carbon-dioxide. Concrete is of course porous to carbon-dioxide, so the more of it we put into the atmosphere the more we threaten countless buildings. We are, literally, crumbling our civilisation.

We have to recognise that normality has been destroyed, that we can no longer predicate our public and private decisions on what we have been predicating them on for 10,000 years. We have to move at unusual speed if we are to salvage anything. We are decades too late to stop global overheating, but we can roll back pollution, noise, and the diseases they cause. But to achieve that in time we have to go on to a war-footing to produce clean technologies, in particular the huge amount of silicon needed to make solar cells at speed all over the world (and to power silicon foundries with solar cells so they are not increasing greenhouse-gases).