Self-Extinction Is Very Repugnant To Some
By Bill Henderson

21 February, 2007

The weather was a hobby for the British steam engineer who gets the credit for first linking smokestacks to warmer winters in 1938. Guy Stewart Callendar fastidiously tracked temperatures in his spare time, and his numbers showed that the world had been heating up for the previous four decades. His theory, based on the research of earlier scientists who had been ignored, argued that human CO2 production was making the temperatures rise. His claims were pooh-poohed: "The idea that a man's actions could influence so vast a complex," he wrote, "is very repugnant to some." Erin Anderssen

Although almost everybody has awoken to the reality of human induced climate change, most inhabitants of infotainment democracies still have only a fuzzy, linear impact, polar bears and glaciers, underappreciation of the seriousness of climate change. Climate change as increasing probability of human extinction doesn't ever even make the top ten Google searches of the week.

In a message I thought at least worthy of an election speech several years ago I had Al Gore explain that humanity had nearly been the victim of two different cases of accidental self-extinction: nuclear winter and CFC caused ozone-layer depletion . Like teenagers realizing that people die drinking and driving, in other types of alcohol related accidents, and even more insidiously, that people could be committing accidental self-extinction if they get into the practice of eating Tylenol to quell binge hangovers, humanity has to mature in self-governance because we do have the power to change the biosphere enough to create a world where humanity and most of what we recognize as nature could not survive.

"Further global warming of 1 C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know." James Hansen

Runaway climate change is an increasingly probable risk of self-extinction. A 90% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 is the prudent risk averse self-governance required but so far necessary change of this scale is very repugnant to some. Read George Monbiot's HEAT, chapter one, for the science explaining the runaway climate change danger and the full quantification of this necessary emission reduction target.

HEAT, the second and third parts of the IPCC report, the wider science comment upon topics in these parts of the report and more intense media coverage will, hopefully, over the coming year alert informed publics globally about both the possibly fatal dangers from climate change but also to the measure of self-governance necessary to convert rapidly to post-carbon economies.

We should be mobilizing for massive change but instead there is now a phony climate change war of green-dressed businesses and governments with promised marginal emission reduction within business as usual. In Canada where I live, the next election and not climate change remains the politicians priority, the Church of Business has restricted climate change debate in the media to ads for new green products, and my provincial government is winning plaudits for only promising a woefully inadequate 30% emission reduction by 2020 while continuing car sprawl infrastructure superprojects and subsidies to the oil and gas industry. Isn't this how you qualify for a Darwin Award? Isn't this a profound immaturity that we can no longer afford?

"The continued production of fossil fuels to sustain our existing economic system is too important to allow the health of the planet to stand in its way. Buy into this mode of thought, and you can say goodbye to any hope of slowing – let alone reversing – the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." Michael Klare


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