Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The End of the World as We Know It?

Mark Anderson's interview with biologist Tim Flannery is great, if you want to make all of your other problems seem inconsequential.

When we say the world will be worse off [because of ongoing climate change]...Let's take species diversity [for instance], which is one of the greatest stabilizing influences on our planet. A diverse ecosystem is a stable ecosystem. There is not a single computer prediction that is suggesting anything less than monumental species loss. Some projections are up to 60 percent (of all species alive today will be extinct or committed to extinction) by the end of this century.

That is massively destabilizing. Projections for the collapse of the Amazon basin are, again, massive. To back all that up, just go to the real world again. Look at the fossil record. See what happens when we get rapid climate change. It's a simple test.

What we see is initial devastation with great species loss, and then a slow recovery over millions of years. In 5 million years' time, our new warm Earth might be fabulous. And there might be a whole new suite of species that have evolved and adapted to that new warm Earth.

But we're talking about us and our children living through a period of unprecedented upheaval. And there's no way that can be a good thing.

There won't be winners and losers in this; there will just be losers.
|Wired|(emphasis added)


Dr. Flannery suggests that we need to put our entire society on a war footing against climate change if we are to survive and adds that a carbon tax is a minimalist way to impose some of the external costs of global warming into the cost-benefit analysis of using renewables versus fossil fuels.

2 comments:

John said...

Chicago's AIA chapter hosted Edward Mazria as a speaker at a professional development conference last week. Mazria is a New Mexico-based architect whose buildings are as close to "off the grid" as possible, pushing passive solar design and other architectural means over mechanical means to heat and cool buildings.

He spoke to a room full of architects over lunch, telling them that they (we) are the solution to the current global warming/climate change problems affecting the US and the rest of the world. This he based on his facts that buildings (commercial and residential) comprise just over 50% of carbon output in this country, the rest being industry and transportation.

With a recently-launched web page, he's calling for architects to reduce carbon emissions in new and renovation construction projects to 50% of current emission averages, with the ultimate goal being zero carbon emissions by 2030, hence the organization's name architecture2030.org.

Needless to say the lunch was a bit depressing, making any other problems pale in comparison, though it was infectuously exciting, if one buys into his means to reducing the problem of global warming. Architects have egos and he played that pretty well.

Ultimately, he knows that preaching to a bunch of architects who need to answer to clients interested more in bottom lines than saving humanity won't do much good, so his goal of giving the talk was to get AIA members to bitch to their state legislatures to enforce the reductions he calls for, New Mexico being the first. That state is also undergoing a study to see what the economical impact of the restrictions are/will be.

He's basically touring the country and other parts of the world giving the lecture to various people. Here's a video (click one of the "Green Building" forum links) of the lecture he gave to Los Alamos scientists last year. Well worth a look-listen.

Safety Neal said...

Hey John, thanks for the long comment. I listened to Mazria's presentation and he certainly makes a compelling case for why we must change our way of life or face devestating consequences.