Climate change is occurring which, if allowed to continue, will result in rapid increase of global temperatures. Rapid in terms of normal geologic time, over centuries rather than over millions of year. The change is being driven by human activities, emission of massive amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and black carbon. Global civilization, both physically and economically, is structured in ways which require emissions of pollutants at levels which greatly exceed the levels rationally necessary for maximization of global human welfare.
Unchecked, global climate change will result in a large increase in the global temperature over the next few centuries, 10 degrees or more centigrade. Patterns of weather, temperature and precipitation, will change radically producing great stress on ecological and economic systems, particularly infrastructure near sea level. Billions of people live with the coastal zones that would be flooded by anticipated rises in sea level.
Due to slowness of heating of the world's oceans, there is a considerable time lag, decades or more, between increased emissions and the environmental consequences. Thus public awareness, as formed by direct experience, lags scientific foresight, making political mobilization around this issue difficult. The situation is complicated by capitalist forces, working against their own long-term interests view as a whole, which for short term profits though production and use of hydrocarbons attempt to influence the debate by confusing the issue.
Sounding the alarm
Bill McKibben, a writer for The New Yorker which was read by opinion leaders in New York City, New England, and the United States introduced the public to the crisis in The End of Nature. There were earlier books on the problem, but McKibben's work moved the issue onto the public agenda.
Solving the problem
"Gobal warming is not about overconsumption, morality, ideology or capitalism. It is largely the result of human beings generating energy by burning hydrocarbons and coal."
Notes and references
- Pages 8 to 20, The End of Nature, Bill McKibben, Random House (1989), hardcover, 226 pages, ISBN-10: 0394576012
- "Climate change eroding Arctic seasons" article by Bob Weber in the Halifax Chronicle Herald from The Canadian Press March 10, 2013 Cite error: Invalid
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- A communist governed globe would still face global warming and its ancillary issues.
- Matthew C. Nisbet. Nature’s Prophet: Bill McKibben as Journalist, Public Intellectual and Activist. Discussion Paper Series #D-78. Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, School of Communication and the Center for Social Media American University. URL accessed on March 8, 2013.
- "The God Species by Mark Lynas - review: A brave look at the environment" book review by Peter Forbes in The Guardian, Wednesday 20 July 2011