A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Climate Change: ‘Unequivocal … Irreversible’

climate-change-083012Another voice joins the chorus of scientists warning that it’s too late to turn back the tide of climate change. The train has left the station, we’ve crossed the tipping point.

All we can do now, according to the American Meteorological Society (AMS), is devote whatever energies we can muster to mitigating the damage and adapting to the new reality.

Their latest information statement on climate change concludes:

There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research.

The observed warming will be irreversible for many years into the future, and even larger temperature increases will occur as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.

Avoiding this future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. The ongoing warming will increase risks and stresses to human societies, economies, ecosystems, and wildlife through the 21st century and beyond, making it imperative that society respond to a changing climate. …

… Mitigation will reduce the amount of future climate change and the risk of impacts that are potentially large and dangerous. At the same time, some continued climate change is inevitable, and policy responses should include adaptation to climate change.

Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.

The AMS notes that “climate is always changing,” but that “it is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases.”

‘Building the economy’, ‘creating more jobs’, or ‘saving Medicare’ are all fool’s errands.

Very simply, we’ve gone over the edge; it’s going to get worse; but we can still act … MUST act … to try to mitigate the damage and begin adapting to what we know will be happening throughout this century – and probably for thousands of years to come.

Where would we begin?

Perhaps we’d start by recognizing that “building the economy” or “creating more jobs” or “saving Medicare” are all fool’s errands. We’ve already noted that we can’t “grow” our way out of the mess we’re in. Back in 1972, a ground-breaking publication called The Limits to Growth concluded that by the middle of the 21st Century the Earth would no longer be able to sustain our obsession with “growth”. The Earth’s resources are finite, and we’ve reached its limits. Our planet cannot sustain limitless growth. All the predictions made by The Limits to Growth so far have come true.

Earlier this month, we quoted Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as saying that he prays every day for an end to the drought. But it’s a bit late in the day for prayers when you’ve steadfastly refused to take action to stop this calamity from happening.

When Bill Clinton was running for high office, the watchword was “It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s what both sides in the upcoming elections are saying today. But it’s not true. Well, it may be that the voters think it’s true. But whichever side wins, we’re all going to lose. Because the economy is not going to grow. At best it’s going to splutter forward one step, only to fall back two steps.

That’s the future. And the future is not going to be dictated by Democrats or Republicans; it’s going to be dictated by the physics, chemistry and biology of Mother Nature.

And the sooner we start listening to those who are listening to what nature is telling us, the sooner we can take action to limit the enormous damage that we’ve already set in motion and can only now act to mitigate in small ways.

But small ways are still better than none.