How Close to Catastrophe?

By Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books and TomDispatch. Posted November 4, 2006 on AlterNet:

This piece, which appears in the November 16, 2006 issue of the New York Review of Books, is posted on AlterNet with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.

Here an excerpt of this article: … This homeostasis is now being disrupted by our brief binge of fossil fuel consumption, which has released a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Indeed, at one point Lovelock predicts — more gloomily than any other competent observer I am aware of — that we have already pushed the planet over the brink, and that we will soon see remarkably rapid rises in temperature, well beyond those envisioned in most of the computer models now in use – themselves quite dire. He argues that because the earth is already struggling to keep itself cool, our extra increment of heat is particularly dangerous, and he predicts that we will soon see the confluence of several phenomena: the death of ocean algae in ever-warmer ocean waters, reducing the rate at which these small plants can remove carbon from the atmosphere; the death of tropical forests as a result of higher temperatures and the higher rates of evaporation they cause; sharp changes in the earth’s “albedo,” or reflectivity, as white ice that reflects sunlight back out into space is replaced with the absorptive blue of seawater or the dark green of high-latitude boreal forests; and the release of large amounts of methane, itself a greenhouse gas, held in ice crystals in the frozen north or beneath the sea … (Read the whole long article on this AlterNet Site).

Comments are closed.