Thursday, October 20, 2005

What don't we get?

Bill McKibben is trying to slap people upside the head when it comes to global climate change:

So far human beings have increased the planet's temperature about 1 degree Fahrenheit. Unless we do everything possible, as quickly as possible, to shift away from fossil fuels, scientists say we will warm the planet another 5 degrees before the century's end.

...It's about time for denial to come to an end. We're no longer talking about theory, about computer models of what might happen. We're talking about what is happening, all around the world, with almost unimaginable speed. Other countries have at least begun to try to deal with the problem, implementing small first steps like the Kyoto Protocol. But here in the United States, there's only a scattering of state and local measures. Washington is governed by a bipartisan consensus that somehow the laws of physics and chemistry don't apply to us.

But they do. I said I wasn't going to talk about the hurricanes, but I lied. In early August a paper by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher in the journal Nature showed that hurricanes were 50 percent stronger and lasted 60 percent longer than a generation ago. In early September a Georgia Tech team showed that the number of category 4 and 5 storms had doubled. You've seen the results on every TV screen and magazine cover.

Exactly how much more do we need to know? Exactly when are we going to roll up our sleeves and get to work?
With yet another major hurricane bearing down on Florida, perhaps the spell will be broken. I'm not too confident, though.

Oh, and if you need more grist for the global warming mill, try these three stories on for size.