Monday, November 19, 2007

The Coming Environmental Apocalypse

I have at times looked around me at the cars and businesses and homes and hospitals exgurgitating their fumes into the air and asked myself two questions: 1) how much oil can be left after such daily mega-consumption; and 2) what can be the net effect of such mega-pollution. Then, last week, I downloaded the new report put together by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I read as much as I could understand. And I thought, and now think, that I have been and am an abuser of God's creation who has basically cared less about the environment even though, as a Jesus-follower, the God of Judeo-Christianity asks me not to be gluttonous and to be a good steward of God's creation.

Summary articles are now coming out, like this one. Which say things such as:

"Humanity is rapidly turning the seas acid through the same pollution that causes global warming, the world's governments and top scientists agreed yesterday. The process – thought to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans for 20 million years – is expected both to disrupt the entire web of life of the oceans and to make climate change worse."

"The world's oceans are probably now more acidic that they have ever been in "hundreds of millennia", and that even if emissions stopped now, the waters would take "tens of thousands of years to return to normal"."

"Climate change is well under way, and is accelerating. It concludes that the warming is now "unequivocal" and "evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level"."

Coming soon...

Arctic - Greenland ice sheet will virtually completely disappear, raising sea levels by over 30 feet, submerging coastal cities, entire island nations and vast areas of low-lying countries like Bangladesh

Latin America - The Amazon rainforest will become dry savannah as rising temperatures and falling water levels kill the trees, stoke forest fires and kill off wildlife

North America - California and the grain-producing Midwest will dry out as snows in the Rockies decrease, depriving these areas of summer water

Australia - The Great Barrier Reef will die. Species loss will occur by 2020 as corals fail to adapt to warmer waters. On land, drought will reduce harvests

Europe - Winter sports suffer as less snow falls in the Alps and other mountains; up to three-fifths of wildlife dies out. Drought in Mediterranean area hits tourism

Africa - Harvests could be cut by up to half in some countries by 2020, greatly increasing the threat of famine. Between 75 million and 250 million people are expected to be short of water within the next 30 years

"The report also concludes that, while some climate change is now inevitable, its worst effects could be avoided with straightforward measures at little cost if only governments would take action. It says that the job can be done by using "technologies that are either currently available or expected to be commercialised in coming decades". It could be done at a cost of slowing global growth by only a tenth of a percentage point a year, and might even increase it.

The missing element, virtually everyone agrees, is political will from governments. Next month they meet in Bali to start negotiations on a new treaty to replace the current provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, which run out in 2012."