Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Abrupt climate change

I must say, I find willful ignorance a bit hard to comprehend. The president's smug assurance that he would not be viewing Al Gore's movie about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, comes to mind. Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article entitled, "Earth's Climate Warming Abruptly, Scientist Says" and I think we really need to pay attention to this. Here's part of what it says:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Earth's climate is undergoing an abrupt change, ending a cooler period that began with a swift "cold snap" in the tropics 5,200 years ago that coincided with the start of cities, the beginning of calendars and the biblical great flood, a leading expert on glaciers has concluded.

The warming around Earth's tropical belt is a signal suggesting that the "climate system has exceeded a critical threshold," which has sent tropical-zone glaciers in full retreat and will melt them completely "in the near future," said Lonnie G. Thompson, a scientist who for 23 years has been taking core samples from the ancient ice of glaciers.

Thompson, writing with eight other researchers in an article published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the ice samples show that the climate can and did cool quickly, and that a similarly abrupt warming change started about 50 years ago. Humans may not have the luxury of adapting to slow changes, he suggests.

"There are thresholds in the system," Thompson said in an interview in his lab at Ohio State University. When they are crossed, "there is the risk of changing the world as we know it to some form in which a lot of people on the planet will be put at risk."

But right now, what the Republicans are claiming is the right to pollute in order to raise short term profits for big business. I simply do not comprehend their inability to take long term consequences into account. They can believe global warming is a "myth" till the cows come home and that won't stop it from being true. Our situation is so very dire. But how to get the people in power to pay attention? I just don't know.

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