If I actually thought about all the stuff that's happening in the world right now, I'd be selling the house and moving to good farmland in the interior or up the coast. Maybe on Vancouver Island. I try not to think about the magnitude of what's happening; it induces a certain paralysis, and a need to dive deep into pulpy novels.
Here's a short doom list:
- The west antarctic ice sheet is widely expected to collapse, raising sea levels by 6-7 m in parts of North America. (a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142132.htm
">see here). No idea when, but current news says that it may be starting to disintigrate. James Hansen, a senior NASA scientist who is a leading climate adviser to the US government, said, "Once a sheet starts to disintegrate, it can reach a tipping point beyond which break-up is explosively rapid." To see how that will affect your home, click here
. There's also the Greenland ice sheet; same deal. Older projections state that melting will take a millennium, but James Hansen
argues that taking positive feedback loops and erratic progress (as seen in geological records of past shifts) into account, it might be a matter of decades before I've got waterfront property.
- Much of the world is in the midst of extreme drought. Potential Dust Bowl Dirty 30's kind of drought, if it keeps up. Since it's almost certainly driven by climate change, which has yet to be addressed in any significant way, it's unlikely that we'll be experiencing an end to drought anytime soon. See here
. Another engine for drought is the lack of trees, which capture and hold moisture to release it slowly through their leaves as well as holding soil (which holds water) with their roots. This smooths out the highs and lows of the atmospheric water supply; less trees leads to thunderous floods followed by dry, dry, dry. Much of North America's produce is grown in California, one of the drought-stricken areas.. This isn't only the probable end of strawberries in December; if we don't get our local food supply up and running (beyond high-end elite boutiquery) this is probably the end of all fresh produce that isn't kale, leeks, potatoes, and cabbage for about a third of the year (assuming greenhouses are still feasible).
- The Bees. Oh, the BEES. Did you know that they pollinate many of our food crops, never mind the non-food crops that keep the birds and other animals alive? The bees are dying, due to what is now thought to be a complex web of environmental causes (collectively called Colony Collapse Disorder). Hopefully we'll sort out what the problems are before everything stops reproducing.
- Peak oil. It may have already happened, and we're being sheltered from the effects by the global slowdown.
- The totally predictable collapse of the US economy, and related collapse of much of the world economy. People that were looking saw this coming, and were dismissed as doomsayers. (Sound familiar?) This economic crisis takes centre stage in world news, and all efforts are focused towards reviving a way of being that will ultimately be our doom. The environment takes a back seat with only token reforms put forward, and there is no real money/effort to get us moving on a more sustainable path. This will make our inevitable crash (global warming plus peak oil) that much more painful; instead of the the more manageable long emergency
I've been hoping for, I fear we're headed for doom, doom, doom. There will be little money or collective effort to prepare a snoozing population for the major shift in our standard of living that's barreling towards us at top speed. Though honestly, the magnitude of the shift that's coming is so large that it's no wonder the US is building what look like internment camps
. I wonder if we are, too?
Have I been a downer? Perhaps deflated your Sunny Day Cheer? Don't worry. There's always the chance that humankind will pull together and sort this mess out, that all the scientists (aside from a few contrarians, mostly paid by the oil industry) that study climate science are wrong, or that the Care Bears
will save us. Failing that, TV and pop culture will soothe us with their lullaby of "Everything's normal, everything's fine, buy more junk!". Hey, this stuff keeps bubbling in the back of my mind, but I'm not out back-to-the-land-ing like I would be if I thought this was going to happen next year. I'm supporting local, sustainably produced food, as much as I'm able, but local food is still a boutique item that requires forethought and effort (and costs more than our artificially cheap industrial food). I'm not sure if it's because I'm in denial, because I don't think it'll happen in the next 10 years (though who really knows until it's too late?), or because I think that when it does happen almost all the people I care about will be screwed anyways so I might as well be comfortable until then, but I'm not really getting ready for this mess (memorably labled "Clusterfuck Nation", and a "circle-jerk of mutual denial" by the delightful James Howard Kunstler) at all.
This post is brought to you by the letter J, as in Josh has the 'flu, and is spending the morning sleeping and/or puking on my lap so I'm stuck in Google University.