It's back in the news again. Somehow we've managed to completely ignore it for the past two months, but its back. And its back with a vengeance.
I am talking about climate change, of course. My first essay on this website dealt with the unexpected melting of the polar ice cover in the Arctic sea. Of all the models predicting the future extent of the summer ice, not one was right or came even close to what we actually experienced this past September.
It hit us like a ton of bricks. It made us speechless. It made us angry. And it gave us our sight back. Until the new season of Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars monopolized our attention, of course. Yet, the forces behind the ice cap changes were not waiting for us to acknowledge them. They have been trucking along, slowly picking up speed, gaining a mile after mile. When this proverbial truck of climate change finally gets going at full speed, stopping it would be on par with a person trying to stop a moving eighteen wheeler. For all intents and purposes, it ain't gonna happen.
I believe that at this point it's too late to slow climate change down or stop it out right. It is impossible. The truck is in motion. What we can do about it, I will discuss presently, but first I want to shed more light on our climate model predictions.
Scientists do scientific things and climate scientists predict the future scientifically. Climate science, it seems, keeps getting things wrong. But, my problem with climate predictions are not their gross inaccuracies. My problem with climate predictions lies with how optimistic and nonchalant they are.
How do climate predictions work? Simply put, like magic. To elaborate, we have a few brains, sitting around their computers and feed data into their models and a few moments, minutes, hours, or days later their computers, with their given data, spew out the predictions made by their models. These brains get together to examine the results and will either declare them valid or go back to their computers, adjust a few parameters and redo the whole process again.
I do not know much about the formulas and parameters that these scientists invent in order to create their prediction models, but from a purely observational perspective, it looks like whatever they are doing is completely off from what is actually happening in the real world. The biggest issue I have is when these scientists are too scared to promote the worst case scenario first. They rather give off a
it's not going to be that bad vibe. There is no anxiety and urgency in their warnings. When a very smart person tells me that global warming will lead to a sea level rise of 20 centimetres by 2100, I get a ruler, find 20 centimetres, put it next to my leg and say to hell with it, they must have tall levees on the coast. But when the actual sea level rise is 1 to 1.5 metres I look back at the predictions and bow my head in shame.
The above scenario is not an invented one. It is happening right now. There are a few lone voices out there, screaming that current climate models do not take the most basic feedback loops into account. The current predictions for sea level rise are from 0.2 metres to 0.5 metres but none of these models take into account Arctic feedback loop. In the feedback loop, the ice melts in Greenland creating an outflow of cold water into Atlantic ocean, which is being replaced by an inflow of warm, salty water from the Pacific. This is a self-reinforcing loop, the faster the ice melts, the more cold water is replaced by warm water resulting in still faster ice melt. University of Colorado geologist, Bill Hay, presents this point in his findings. He is preparing to release his study on inaccuracies of current climate model on Nov 4.
I believe him. There are multiple other examples of climate predictions being too optimistic and falling flat on their faces when the actual data comes in for review. Sea ice extent in the Arctic is one example. Higher sea levels than previously predicted is another. Floods, droughts, and huge hurricanes happening now, prove time and again that optimistic, far off in the future climate predictions should be revised and made more fearful and immediate.
In order to get people talking about climate change, a fear must be put in them, a truthful fear. After 9/11, whole nations were scared into taking action to increase and improve their security. I am not advocating a wholesale dictatorship here, but in order to get people to do something about the global warming problem, we must tell them what will happen if nothing is done about it. And we must tell them in such way that will be memorable and will stick in their minds. If a man knows someone is going to attack him, he can either prepare mentally and physically for the coming fight or run away. Running away doesn't solve the problem, eventually he will have to face his attacker. And when it happens will he be too tired to fight? We are that man and we must fear climate change. Fear is a powerful motivator, fear makes you prepare for a fight, fear can help you win. We need climate change scientists to scare us into acknowledging the coming catastrophe.
What should we do about climate change? As I've said before, we can't stop it or slow it down. It is going to take its course, the best that we can do is make sure it doesn't gain more speed. How can this be done? We must abandon high-energy life style. If it doesn't sound realistic or possible than you are partially right. It can't be done on an individual level. One person or even one family can't do it successfully. But there is a way. There is always a way.
This type of action requires a mandate from the nation's government. High tax on cars, trucks, planes and their fuels would be a good start. Building homes that will fit the weather patterns in each region, rather then depend on electricity for warmth in winter and cooling in summer is another strategy.
Smaller towns are key to reducing energy use. They allow people to walk or bike to work rather then drive. Big cities are big energy wasters. To get around in big cities we must drive or take long public transit trips. In a big city, we need an energy equivalent of twenty slaves, working 24 hours non-stop, to drive to work everyday. Today this energy is provided by oil, which is a primary cause for climate change. As they say, we can't have our cake and eat it too. That's the curse of the big city. We must abandon big city lifestyle.
Next, we must go back to living with the land. A hundred years ago 80% of people in North America were farmers. A hundred and fifty years ago 90% of people everywhere were farmers. For our whole existence, we were farmers or hunter gatherers. In order to weather the coming climate change calamity we must go back to being farmers. Food is main reason we are alive and we must relearn how to grow it and how to tend the land. Again, this can not be done on individual scale. Governments must decree it and then do everything possible to accommodate the transition. Trucking food from 1200 miles is not sustainable anymore and helps speed up global climate change. We must turn away from global and embrace local living.
The coming years will be hard. Floods and droughts will make our basic food stuffs expensive and scarce. Hurricanes and storms will destroy our infrastructure and kill many people. We must accept this as a new reality. Many people will die. Thousands or even millions will perish in global and local conflicts and resource wars. When people go hungry they become angry, leading to tension in their communities, warmongering and conflict with others. If we want to minimize the damage, the first two steps I talked about must be taken immediately. The longer we wait the more costly and catastrophic the resulting conflicts will be.
This is the future we are facing now, but we are still blind to it. Climate change scientist have a choice. They must let the blind see. They must tell us the truth. We will not be okay, our civilization will not adapt, and we will not survive if we are unprepared for what is coming. The time to prepare is now.