Global Warming Beats the Price of Heat

Continuing to plunder

Clinton in National Women's Hall of Fame
I'll begin on a light note. An article entitled "Clinton Inducted into women's hall of fame" appeared among the news listings on the Web this week. Seeing just the headline, my first thought was, "Gosh, Bill must be a pretty good lover." I guess that's why you can't just look at headlines. It was about Hilary. I suppose that makes more sense.

The Grim Side of Global Warming
The signs of climate change are becoming even more obvious more quickly than I--and most of the world--would have thought. While there are still some people in denial about the human contribution to global warming, most scientists do believe that emissions from our lifestyle are adding to any natural climatic variations.

The title of this entry comes from a song I wrote in spring 2001 called Bitter Wind and it was inspired by the Bush inauguration (this was before 911). That phrase was kind of a play on words, but it turns out to be the sad truth. I've provided a number of links to global warming information in previous entries. This week, there were a couple of scary headlines again. The earth just experienced the warmest September on record; and British scientists believe that 2005 will turn out to be the second warmest year in recorded history.

The effects are clearly all around us. Record hot summer temperatures in Europe. More--and more ferocious--hurricanes in the western hemisphere (directly related to an increasing sea temperature). Whether or not you believe these events are connected, there was the huge tsunami earlier this year; the destruction of New Orleans and a portion of the U.S. gulf coast; and, most recently, a quake in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan with a toll of 40,000 estimated dead (add that to the tsunami casualties). (Has anyone noticed the unusual rains in the northeast U.S. this week?) Meanwhile, countries deliver billions in aid to catastrophe-stricken regions. Has it occurred to any of the world leaders (or, for that matter, anyone) that if these catastrophes continue, the world is simply going to run out of money? I know that's a pretty materialistic way to look at things, but maybe it's the wake-up call needed for those who are plundering the planet.

Some scientists now believe the warming spirals in on itself; it perpetuates more--and quicker--warming. It seems like we're pretty screwed because no one knows how to reverse it. We can slow it by changing our lifestyle and the way we treat the earth. But now that the damage has begun, no one can say for sure that we can stop it.

The Brighter Side of Global Warming
People in power will do what they always do--exploit the situation. The National Weather Service has just predicted much of the U.S. will experience a warmer-than-usual winter. You would think that would be bad news in a world concerned with global warming. But it turns out to have a perceived silver lining. The price of heat has gotten so expensive--partially because of this administration's plundering of the mid-east, but also because of the damage in the Gulf Coast—that a warm winter is a good thing! There was a lot of concern that the less fortunate among us (which is about 95% of us) would not be able to heat their homes this winter--or would wind up going into debt because of it.

The New York Times (free membership required to read it) had a very interesting article on the jockeying by nations to claim the area around the north pole. This lent itself to a fascinating special on the associated Discovery-Times cable TV channel earlier this week. (Check your listings for Arctic Rush. I promise you it's mind-blowing.)

It seems that the arctic is melting so quickly, that from outer space by the end of this century, the north pole may appear blue a good part of the year. Of course, this has its dire effects. Coastal cities and countries will disappear; overrun by an ocean that is a couple of feet higher than it has been in human history. And the changes in the north will be staggering. The fabled northern shipping passage is already beginning to open up, enabling a by-sea trade route from Asia to Europe that is about half as long as today's routes; such a route has been sought for centuries. Former "remote" countries, Denmark, the northern regions of the Soviet Union, and the northern provinces of Canada, are now beginning to gear up as shipping ports. And also, as the ice melts, they may become oil-rich nations. These once sleepy hinterlands may someday be very powerful forces. Already disputes are arising over who owns certain pieces of the north pole or the northern territories. Russia has claimed quite a bit, but that needs to be substantiated and approved. The U.S. seems like a big loser up there. So we've already created strategic alliances with Denmark. In fact, on TV, the U.S. ambassador to Denmark looks sort of like Dick Cheney or Karl Rove (he does not in his official photo, oddly enough). Just a vulture waiting to pounce on their oil. And, of course, the North Carolina lawyer and businessman was appointed by the Bush administration. Here's a short bit of his official biography:

Ambassador Cain has been politically active for many years, going back to the early campaigns of President Ronald Reagan. He served as Republican National Committeeman for North Carolina from 2003 to 2005, and served as Regional Chairman and the State Finance Vice Chairman for the Bush-Cheney ‘04 Campaign.

The irony is that our use of fossil fuel is melting the ice cap, enabling us to plunder the earth for even more fossil fuel to damage the planet. It wouldn't be that way if we took a lesson from history or even cared. But we all just let our governments and their lobbies go about their business.

As much of a futurist as I may be, for the first time in my life, I give thanks that I won't be here to see the end of the 21st century. It's going to be a very different planet.

Posted: Sat - October 15, 2005 at 11:21 AM