Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Storm Warnings

From AP just now: A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane measured maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, with higher gusts, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The plane also recorded a minimum pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest value ever observed in the Atlantic basin. That meant Wilma was stronger than any storm on record, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late August, and Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast in September.

Okay then. I also read today that with the arctic sea ice disappearing, we're going to have a whole new geostrategic situation, the Panama Canal will become obsolete, and there's going to be an arctic land rush -- tough shit for the Inuit and the polar bears. The glacier on Kilimanjaro will soon be gone. You get the idea.

So, it's basically too late. We aren't going to reduce fossil fuel use any time soon, and global climate change will just accelerate anyway, no matter what. There's probably a positive feedback loop with the arctic ice cap disappearing -- the open water absorbs more sun, rather than reflecting it back like that bright white ice. The surface layer of the ocean has already warmed so it's absorbing less heat. Etc.

The time has come to figure out how we're going to live with this. The debate about Kyoto is over. We still need to accelerate conversion to renewable energy, of course, and it's got to be a political priority to undertake drastic measures to reduce exacerbation of climate change as much as we can. But we need to deal with it as a present reality, not a distant prospect.

I have some thoughts about the likely consequences and how to respond, which I will get to. Anybody else care to weigh in?

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