Re: [atheists-36] Miami Doomed

From: Ronnie H.
Sent on: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 9:42 AM

From "Irreversible Does Not Mean Unavoidable," by H. Damon Matthews
 and Susan Solomon, _Science_ 26 April 2013, p. 438:

"The notion that there will be additional future warming or "warming in the pipeline" if the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were to remain fixed at current levels has been misinterpreted to mean that the rate of increase in Earth's global temperature is inevitable, regardless of how much or how quickly emissions decrease. Further misunderstanding may stem from recent studies showing that the warming that has already occurred as a result of past anthropogenic carbon dioxide increases is irreversible on a time scale of at least 1000 years. But irreversibility of past changes does not mean that further warming is unavoidable. . . .

"If emissions were to cease abruptly, global average temperatures would remain roughly constant for many centuries, but they would not increase very much, if at all. . . . any further increase in CO2-induced warming is entirely the result of current CO2 emissions. . . .

"Societal inertia, rather than the inertia of the climate system, is thus the critical challenge if we wish to begin to decrease the rate of CO2-induced global warming in the near future. . . .

"Climate warming tomorrow, this year, this decade, or this century is not predetermined by past CO2 emissions; it is yet to be determined by future emissions. The climate benefits of emissions reductions would thus occur on the same time scale as the political decisions that lead to the reductions."

The key phrase in the above is SOCIETAL INERTIA. Really dropping CO2 emissions--making them "cease abruptly"--is not going to be accomplished with a few more regulations here and there, as will be the only likely outcome of Obama's speech. The whole huge, bloated scale of the global economy needs to be dramatically reduced, and for that to happen the patterns of human social organization will have to change. Speaking of "a combination of aggressive mitigation combined with massive spending" on ways to "adapt" is basically a way of acquiescing to a continuation of business as usual, and to vainly hope that Miami, or other low-lying cities around the world, can survive the century "intact" displays a woeful inability to envision the finitude of a planet already inhabited by more than 7 billion people, most of them living in shockingly unsustainable ways. Most people would probably agree, confronted with the basics of our human situation and thinking "rationally," that a deep change in our social reality would be "good for us" (turning off the burner that's frying the planet is just one reason why), but the inertia in the old system, the vast net of expectations we all carry around in our heads that has such a hold on us, is difficult to overcome. Starting to talk about the problem at this level is at least a first step toward bringing it about, in my opinion.


On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 12:34 AM, Daniel Strack <[address removed]> wrote:
Scientists have been warning about this for years.  What does it take to get som people out of denial? This is a subject intelligent people (Humanists, anyone?) should be talking about. --Dan

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