Things aren’t looking good for this planet. The well-respected group of scientists known as the Royal Society is concerned about the combination of excessive consumption and population growth, and is suggesting increased birth control and global redistribution of wealth to combat that. Two things that are politically untouchable in this country at least. This is the problem I see…scientists look at the path we’re on and have recommendations for how to fix it, but the political and social reality is not guided by science, it is guided by other influences. Scientists, in general, just don’t seem to get this…they keep talking about what should be done to solve the world’s problems, without recognizing what can be done. We don’t need talk about ideal solutions, we need talk about practical, realistic solutions. Changes that you can possibly expect might be implemented. You can read more about the Royal Society’s position on these issues in Scientific American. And no, I don’t have the answer…I’m just really pessimistic about global governments’ abilities to enact change, and get frustrated when the best answer I hear from scientists is to let global governments solve these problems. It’s not going to happen, we need new ideas.
In separate, but related, news, the executive director of the International Energy Agency is warning governments around the world that, globally, fossil fuel consumption is increasing and we need to shift our focus to renewable energy sources. On our current path, we’re looking at a global temperature increase of 6C by the end of the century, triple the international ‘goal’ of 2C (though I’d argue that the goal should be zero!). We’re just nowhere near where we need to be, and there’s no real drive for change.
Bleak news, but then, it’s not really news…it’s just more of the same. We recognize the problem but instead of taking responsibility for our actions, we’ll pass this off to the next generation and make them deal with it. This is our legacy, but I hold out hope that we can find technological solutions to these social problems before it’s too late.
According to climate data from NOAA, our country just experienced its warmest March ever. The average temperature was 8.6F above the average for the last century. Precipitation was slightly above average nationwide, though concentrated in the northwest and the southern plains, with much of the rest of the country experiencing drier than average conditions and helping to contribute to ~37% of this country being in drought conditions. Alaska, not included in these results, experienced its 10th coolest winter on record (~5F below average).
What does this mean? Global warming is real, people. I don’t have complete confidence in any of the models that attempt to predict how weather patterns will change, I feel it’s still too complex a system for us to analyze, but there’s no escaping the FACT that our global climate IS changing due to global warming. In spite of that, we continue to not make serious efforts to reduce our CO2 emissions. There are those who continue to deny the link between CO2 and global warming, and I don’t see that ever changing, unfortunately. We’ll continue to march down this path and ruin this beautiful planet for future generations. They’ll adapt and survive, but will live in a much different world than what we enjoy.
What can we as individuals do? Educate those around you. Speak up. Reduce your own CO2 emissions and lead by example.
Water supplies in our country are not only facing pressure from an increasing population, but climate change is likely to make the problem worse. So bad in fact, that by 2050 more than one in three counties in the US could face either a high or extreme risk of water shortage. Most likely, this will affect southern and southwestern states, and the southern Great Plains states. Read more over at sciencedaily.
The scientific consensus is clear – humans are responsible for global warming. The political consensus is likewise clear – we’re not going to do what it takes to avoid significant climate change. So, we must face the reality of this world we’re creating. What can we expect? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a report summarizing what our children will have to deal with as they grow up. Things such as stronger storms, hotter and longer heat waves, higher temperatures, and more precipitation.
It’s a shame that we can see this happening around us and see where our current path will lead, yet lack the willpower to alter this course. It will be up to the scientists and engineers to help our society adapt to this changing climate.