Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Truth Is Not Out There - It's Right Here

Fox Mulder of the X-Files got it wrong. He believed that the truth was 'out there;' in fact, it is right here, but as the Mound of Sound said in a recent post, we live in "a world full of fact-resistant humans."

Our capacity for denial seems almost limitless, perhaps most tragically attested to by our ongoing nonchalance about climate change. Despite increasingly severe weather events, melting arctic ice and rising sea levels, we insist on whistling past the graveyard. The time is growing very late.

Consider what Gwynne Dyer had to say recently:
We cannot count on the average global temperature rising steadily but slowly as we pump more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It may do that -- but there may also be a sudden jump in the average global temperature that lands you in a world of hurt. That may be happening now.

"We are moving into uncharted territory with frightening speed," said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, last November. He was referring to the fact that the warming is accelerating in an unprecedented way.

2014 was the hottest year ever, until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. 2016 may beat that record by an even wider margin. It was the hottest January ever and the average global temperature in February was a full fifth of a Celcius degree higher than January.
To take solace by blaming recent event on El Niño is folly:
As for the frightening acceleration in the warming in the past three months, that has no precedent in any El Niño year, or indeed in any previous year. It could be some random short-term fluctuation in average global temperature, but coming on top of the record warming of 2014 and 2015 it feels a lot more like part of a trend.

Could this be non-linear change, an abrupt and irreversible change in the climate? Yes. And if it is, how far will it go before it stabilizes again at some higher average global temperature? Nobody knows.
What was once thought to be many decades, if not centuries off, is now starting to materialize. Watch the following two videos to consider what may very well be in store for us, perhaps in the lifetime of some alive today, but almost certainly in that of our children and grandchildren:

Such scenarios are no longer in the realm of science fiction, but we continue to treat them as such, and it doesn't appear that anything will shake us and our 'leaders' from this state of denial. It therefore seems appropriate to end this post with Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower, a song that I have always interpreted as depicting impending doom:


  1. We refuse to see what's happening, Lorne. We are living in a Greek tragedy.

    1. Our hubris is quickly becoming our undoing, Owen.

  2. Dyer was introduced to the climate change threat through his colleagues at the Pentagon and the British MoD where it was the subject of study as a global security threat, a destabilizing force that multiplied other causes of armed conflict. If you haven't read it you might check out "Climate Wars" only be sure to get the 2nd ed.

    Look at Canada, a nation I call "latitudinally advantaged." We're one of just six countries that still has a biological surplus. The rest are all in deficits that are growing and will continue to grow with the onset of climate change. We have all these advantages - fresh water, large country, small population, biomass and such, yet we're really not prepared to lift a finger to protect this bounty against what's coming. We do have options although the best were foreclosed starting in the 80s and the remainder will steadily slip through our fingers without effective action. Throw away all the debates and arguments, ignore the science, none of it matters unless we have the collective will to change, to accept the not inconsiderable cost of preparing Canada for the future.

    Preaching that sermon today invites nothing but ridicule and scorn.

    1. I have sometimes wondered whether the fact that we have all of these natural advantages has made us rather arrogant and disdainful of the threats posed by climate change, Mound. If that is the case, we are living in a fool's paradise.

  3. I think having natural advantages is frightening. We'll be the place others invade. We'll be the ones to survive just long enough to watch it all fall apart.

    1. Perhaps only when that happens will we realize we were not above the fray after all, Marie.