Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hot enough for you?

Yes, I know, it's fairly chilly in the most of the U.S. today, as it ought to be in December, but the world is still getting warmer.

How many of you newshounds already know that right now, today, the UN Climate Change Conference is happening in Montreal? Probably quite a few people don't because the corporate media in the U.S. has largely ignored it. This meeting is a conference of the parties to the UN Climate Change Convention. The U.S. is a signatory, but as everyone knows, the U.S. pulled out of an annex to the treaty, the so-called Kyoto Protocol, which is the only part that actually requires countries to do anything, and continues to unequivocally oppose the substantially greater reductions in greenhouse gases that many countries are calling for.

The most excellent web site of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is truth central on this issue -- and you won't get the truth from the U.S. government, and very little truth from its servant news media. Click on the link on the left side called Essential Background and you'll find excellent, user-friendly summaries of the major issues.

Here's the bottom line: global warming from pre-industrial levels is now about .6 degrees centigrade in average surface temperatures. Predicted additional warming for the rest of this century is from 1.4 to 5.8°c, which means that the absolute minimum possibility is 2°c above pre-industrial temperatures, which just so happens to be what many climate scientists consider to be the tipping point -- the amount of warming which will induce positive feedback effects, such as release of methane from permafrost, that will cause continued warming regardless of the amount of greenhouse gases humans continue to pump into the atmosphere.

So, it will happen. Here's what it will mean. This happens to be related to most of what else ails us -- dependence on petroleum and natural gas from foreign suppliers, the disastrous war we're involved in right now (see previous point), the distortions caused by agricultural subsidies in the rich countries (it's kind of a long story how that ties in, but it does -- that's for an upcoming post), loss of biodiversity, even obesity and diabetes and heart disease (because of the way we live, that makes us drive instead of walk). The Terrorists™ are close to being the least of our worries.

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