Friday, September 14, 2007

are we nearly there yet

I am generally blessed with the gravitas of a circus tumbler, but I can't seem to help myself from voicing an opinion about this....

....watching, listening to the debate (why in gods name do we insist on calling it debate, as if there were some doubt?) on ‘global warming’ with fascinated horror and I can’t help feeling that we are seeing the problem and the consequences from a uniquely distorted vantage point.

There are many good reasons why we (on the whole) would appear to be futile arbiters of our own fate:

Cigarettes, alcohol abuse, drugs and all manner of hedonistic choice oriented indulgences – which are apparent no-brainers and yet still we continue to make poor decisions, this’ll kill you if you continue, oh well never mind I’ll take my chance….should really make us despair of the probability of making wise choices concerning something as apparently intangible as the health of the planet if we can’t even make them on our own behalf.

Successive generations who have been aware of the damage that humanity has been causing to its environment have failed to pay little more than lip service to it. And let’s be very, very clear about this….this is legacy. What we leave for our children, these children that we will die for, drive to school and fight tooth and nail to drop off within 5 yards of the school gate to protect them from the bogey man and other manic, purposeless traffic…these same children we will leave a world in slightly, perhaps profoundly, worse shape than when we inherited it. They will receive, courtesy of us, new areas of the sea which once teemed with life but are now fished out, areas of levelled, arid tarmac where once fertile jungles grew, a substantially reduced ice cap – along with ice bergs in some very unusual places, changing currents in the oceans and the atmosphere and new, unpredictable weather patterns. My imagination and knowledge aren’t sufficient to do more than scratch the surface.

Have you heard of global dimming? It’s a phenomenon that is indicative of the contradiction between our knowledge and concern and our remedial action. Essentially rain tends to form around particulate matter in the atmosphere, humidity metamorphoses into droplets by the simple expedient of dust. Our ‘pollution’, at it simplest, comprises two components, gaseous and material by products. We have become very much better at reducing the physical detritus of our daily lives escaping into the atmosphere than its gaseous counterpart.

The result being that whilst we still throw unconscionable amounts of carbon monoxide to the heavens, we have vastly reduced the amount of ‘dust’.

Which is unfortunate. Air currents have taken this dust, in the past, over areas of Africa, where rain is a rare commodity and infrequent blessing, it has seeded clouds and whilst not wholly predictably provided seasonal rain – this dust has provided sufficient catalyst for airborne humidity to coalesce into infrequent, life giving rains.

Our wadis aren’t wadis any more. They don’t flood. They are just dusty ruts.

This simple expedient has actually aided and abetted global warming rather than alleviated it. Aren't we clever?

And will we, (will you?), deny the next generation of global super powers? More to the point will they deny themselves? We don’t appear to have a particularly convincing argument: “I say Mr Chinaman, I know that we have spent the past the 30 years in an orgy of manufacture and self indulgence and I do quite understand that at the time you had to do with a village bicycle with no seat and tyres – and now that it is within your grasp to have everything that I have, would you mind terribly not having a car, or a fridge, a computer or cell phone because you see you are going to finish the job of fucking up the environment that I started. I’m very sorry but I know that you will understand the need for a little self restraint, after all you’ve never had any luxuries in the past”.

I think not.

So the outcome is, in my humble opinion, inevitable, but not the outcome that is most often mooted. We won’t destroy the planet. We will not bring about the death of mother earth. What we will do is continue to alter the balance of our current continuum, we will cause changes in sea currents and trade winds with consequent and cathartic changes to the global fundamentals of climate. We can’t help it, we can’t stop ourselves.

And what will happen is that the earth will throw us off. We really should have no conceit over this, it’s like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog. We are, as most species are, here by main part accident and adaptation. We don't have a Willy Wonka gold ticket to survival. On the contrary, on the whole we are quite fragile beings, a great many of whom choose to live on boundaries, by the Oceans, or conversely, when inland, in areas which have far too little water to naturally sustain (human) life.

Climate change will hit us hard. At some point it will hit us so hard that we will cease to be, at least ‘be’ in the civilised sense that we ‘be’ now. It’s possible that a small number of us may adapt and survive….but there will be no going back. The earth will change and throw us off, shed us if you like. It will evolve and we will be left behind. Perhaps it will be the chance for some other species to dominate, or perhaps the eco system will relax back into a more dynamic society of creatures. Of course it is unfortunate that we will take many other species with us as we shuffle off this mortal coil. The changes that culminate in our demise will affect many other communities too, not least all of our domesticated animals (there's a double whammy here because the world will not only be rid of us and our noxious emissions, but also a truly spectacular amount of cow-fart) …but what the hey, too little, too late, we will sink without a trace.

So. Don’t worry about it. You will not bring about the end of the world you little weed...

It will bring about the end of you.


Jules said...

It seems no matter what we do we'll still have problems. But, strive we will, none-the-less. I really like your writing. Seems we share opinions on several things.

patti_cake said...

Very good post Fish. I usually skip over stuff like this la~la~la~la~la I can't hear you. NOT the best tack to take obviously. It is frightening to realize that yes, the Earth will shed us rather than the other way around. Thanks for your kind comment on yesterday blog. I appreciate it. It's nice when others understand what you are doing.

Melissa said...

The planet will jettison us from her delicate surface before we get the chance to squash her completely. People say things like, "What's the point of recycling? It's not going to make any difference." Wrong. Just wrong. Simple stuff.

Craig Mackintosh said...

Nice post. For more on global dimming, check here:

Wendy said...

I've come to believe, though I do my best to recycle, conserve, be "green", that the Earth will indeed shed us. I believe we are just part of a cycle, much like the dinosaurs and sabertooths were. I just hate seeing how stupid people are about it all. This is a great post - I wish more people would listen. I love what you wrote about how careful we are about our children - dropping them at the school doors, and yet ....

Jenn said...

Redheads are already on the way out...we can't handle the sun.

Seriously, they've done studies....fewer and fewer of us born each generation and they say it's because we're too tender....ah...physically. The genetic weeding out of the weaker species, I suppose.

(Though, I read an interesting article on "Gingers" and how they're just not smiled upon over there so maybe it's a good thing.)

In all seriousness - excellent post, Fish.

Daisy said...


I find the whole subject of Global Warming disturbing. It is happening right before our eyes and we have assholes that sit in Washington with their damn heads in the sand.

"What we leave for our children, these children that we will die for, drive to school and fight tooth and nail to drop off within 5 yards of the school gate to protect them from the bogey man and other manic, purposeless traffic…these same children we will leave a world in slightly, perhaps profoundly, worse shape than when we inherited it."

I couldn't agree more. Unless it would be that a lot of the time these people are driving around in gigondo SUVs.