Saturday, April 7, 2007


The next summary of a portion of the new report on climate change is out and even without the Highway to Extinction charts or a proper caution about sea level rise it is pretty gloomy. As pointed out in the first summary, the temperature rise caused by us is real. Now we learn that it is having real effects now. People have died already in heat waves assigned with medium confidence to warming. The way people hunt in the Arctic has been changed owing to warming. And, as the insurance companies are already noting, coastal flooding is also becoming a problem. In the first figure of the report, the changes are represented by blue and green dots. For the US, they seem to pour off the Rocky Mountains towards Senator Inhofe's Tulsa office in an accusing flood ready to sweep on over the President's Texas ranch.

It is true that these guys bear some responsibility for our slow response to warming, or at least their submission to their paymasters is culpable, but even if we did not intend it, we have caused the deaths in Europe, disturbed the Inuit and poisoned the mangroves by causing the warming. The way our pushers use the money we pay them to keep on pushing their product does not absolve us.

Up to now, we can plea to manslaughter and unintended destruction of property, but beyond this point we will have to admit to murder and vandalism.

How well does this metaphor work? As long as it is someone else who is killed or someone else's island that sinks below the wave it goes along pretty well. Reading further into the report though, we see that we'll be harming ourselves too. At that point, we're not just being cruel, we're being stupid. If we're merely beasts soiling our den, then we bear little responsibility since we aren't capable of taking responsibility. Al Gore calls warming a moral issue. He could be wrong.

No comments: