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Eugene Linden: 'The gathering apocalypse'

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  • npat1
    Fw: [fuelcell-energy] ... Eugene Linden: The gathering apocalypse Posted on Wednesday, August 02 @ 09:45:04 EDT This article has been read 744 times. ... As
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2006
      Fw: [fuelcell-energy]
      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Eugene Linden: 'The gathering apocalypse'
      Posted on Wednesday, August 02 @ 09:45:04 EDT
      This article has been read 744 times.
      As the weather gradually unmoors from its normal patterns, at some
      point we'll have no choice but to realize that global warming is upon

      Eugene Linden, Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

      I've written a good deal about global warming over the years, but
      like most people, I still have a hard time envisioning how we will
      know when the apocalypse arrives. Nobody will ring a bell to announce
      that a climate-change event has begun, and it's easy to ignore the
      signals that climate is changing. After all, we've always had extreme
      weather, and it's possible that what signifies the point of no return
      will not be in the realm of weather anyway but rather a derivative
      effect such as a financial crisis or crop failure.

      That's not to say that some future dramatic event such as the
      Greenland ice sheet sliding into the ocean won't happen, but it's
      more likely that global warming will creep up on us as the weather
      gradually unmoors from its normal patterns. Single events will be
      explained away. But at some point, the frequency, severity and
      ubiquity of the unusual weather will produce a sense of foreboding, a
      sense that something is happening beyond our control.

      What with killer heat waves, killer hurricanes and killer droughts,
      it's arguable that we've already passed that point. Indeed, I had
      that feeling of foreboding in the last week of June, as Washington,
      D.C., gradually surrendered ground and the routines of daily life to
      incessant rain: Cars floated down ordinarily meek Rock Creek,
      government buildings flooded, the Metro was disrupted and roads were
      closed. You may have had the same feeling last week as the power
      dimmed and temperatures surged in Southern California and beyond.

      That said, the real, more insidious scenario might be that climate
      change will intrude on our lives like an omnipresent and ever more
      confiscatory taxman.

      Where they can, insurers and banks will pass weather risks to
      individuals and the government, making the costs of daily life more
      expensive. In some areas, housing might become uninsurable and
      unsalable, which in turn could cause a financial crisis. Municipal
      budgets and government safety nets will gradually succumb to the ever-
      increasing burden imposed by windstorms, floods, droughts and other
      weather extremes. Infectious diseases will thrive. The middle class
      will slowly find its savings and creature comforts stripped away, and
      the ordinary details of living, such as eating fresh vegetables and
      traveling to see family and friends, will become more expensive and
      uncertain. At some point it will dawn on us that the weather is
      making us poorer and sicker.

      Whether we are in Act 2 or Act 4 of a five-act climate drama, we are
      not the first to live out this play. At some point, for instance, the
      Moche elders, who lived in Peru 1,400 years ago, must have begun to
      wonder whether torrential El Ni´┐Żo-related rains were going to spell
      the doom of their civilization. Sometime during a 10-year stretch of
      intensely cold winters and short, cool summers, the Norse living in
      Greenland in A.D. 1350 must have begun to feel a sense of dread. In
      fact, that period was one harbinger of the Little Ice Age, which
      persisted for several hundred years.

      Now it's our turn. Like fugitives who must worry about every knock on
      the door, we can no longer dismiss events such as the late June rains
      and the July heat wave as just another instance of wacky weather.
      There's a distinct difference, though, between us and the Moche and
      the Norse, not to mention the Mayans, the Anasazi, the Akkadians and
      other players in previous episodes of climate chaos. All of them were
      victims of natural cycles; the evidence suggests that we wrote the
      script for this latest episode of climate roulette.

      It's easy to be condescending about past civilizations. They didn't
      have the science and technology that have enabled us to understand
      how climate works or to determine the role of climate in the collapse
      of their cultures in South America, the American Southwest and the
      Middle East. If only they knew what we now know about climate, maybe
      they would have adapted and survived.

      Then again, maybe not. We do know what we know, and still we do
      nothing. That's going to have future historians scratching their

      Eugene Linden, the author of "The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather
      and the Destruction of Civilizations," wrote this for the Los Angeles

      Copyright 2006 Star Tribune.

      Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)


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