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2/27/01

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
February 27, 2001

 

Last week amidst reports that the permanent snow cover of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro was melting for the first time since Homosapiens began to notice such things, the United Nation sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced that Global warming was here, and its impact on humans more ominous than once thought.

To puncuate the warning, Explorer Sir Peter Blake called the conference governing council from an ice floe in King George's sound to tell them the King George VI ice shelf at the base of the Antarctic peninsula was breaking up. Far from subtle, this should be a wake up call to anyone planning a future on planet earth. Sadly the Bush administration is deep in denial regarding all things environmental.

Of course there are millions of Americans depending on the Polluter in Chiefs selective blindness, encouraging him to support attempts by multinational corporations and emasculate the Kyoto Protocol. Proudly stating the treaty "is never going to be satisfactory to the economic interests of this country" Representative Joe Barton, chairman of the House subcommittee on energy and air quality, is urging President Bush to kill the Kyoto treaty altogether. You gotta love that compassionate conservatism.

Hardly alone in the "head in the sand" Olympics, America is joined by other industrialized nations in seeking expanded loopholes in regulations aimed at reducing the emissions responsible for turning up the heat. England, New Zealand, Canada, and Saudi Arabia are all doing their best to flood Bangladesh, and small island states such as the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. If that isn't a human rights violation I don't know what is.

One report issued at the United Nation event in Nairobi warned that losses due to more frequent tropical cyclones, loss of land as a result of rising sea levels and damage to fishing stocks, agriculture and water supplies, could cost billion dollars annually. That's each year, every year, forever. And it is probably safe to say that figure is just the tip of the iceberg. I wonder what the price tag will be for protecting the sprawl of San Diego's Mission Valley from the Pacific Ocean?

The report assumes that carbon dioxide concentrations will rise to twice pre-industrial levels by 2050 as a result of the burning of coal, oil and gas. People still in denial will scoff at such predictions, countering with claims that volcanoes, trees and water also produce Greenhouse gases. Where this may be true, it is important to note all those things help create an atmosphere that can support mammalian life. Automobiles and other polluting technologies are not part of that natural process, and do nothing to maintain it.

Human addiction to fossil fuels is a very expensive habit, sadly we are not the only ones to pay the price. Species worldwide will succumb to our suicidal tendencies. Coral reefs, and coastal ecosystems are already in decline due to global warming. As weather patterns begin to shift plants and animals, will have only three options - adapt to the climatic chaos, migrate, or die. Humans will fare little better.

The news coming out of Nairobi is far from news, environmental activists have been sounding the alarm for the past three decades. Personally, this writer began talking about global warming the moment I hit print. For the record. There is no comfort in I told you so.

 
 
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