Alex Pareene has a darkly amusing story at Salon today, basically telling everyone to abandon all hope and the minutiae of Supreme Court health care decisions:
Sure, it’s infuriating that a simple majority of ideologically conservative justices with lifetime appointments are abusing the extra-constitutional power of judicial review to advance partisan Republican policy goals, but on the other hand, soon Washington, D.C., will be much more underwater than it currently is.
The U.S. Geological Survey says sea levels from North Carolina up to Boston have risen 2-3.7 millimeters per year since 1990, a rate higher than the global average. And “if global temperatures continue to rise” — which they will, definitely! — sea levels along the Atlantic coast (where a lot of America’s favorite stuff is) will continue to increase at a rate higher than those of much of the rest of the world.
Washington being washed away into the ocean is, of course, a result that would please both liberal critics of conservative judicial activism and conservative critics of federal overreach, but obviously the rising sea levels will likely drown Baltimore (and Norfolk, Va.) well before they affect Washington.
Pareene concludes that we should perhaps rename “climate change” as “the deficit” to get the required amount of attention from policymakers.
You can find multiple examples like this US Geological Survey study, all pointing to the same conclusion – climate change has gone out of the theoretical and into the here and now, with first-hand reporting across the globe of the definitive and pronounced changes caused by a warming planet. Whether it’s polar bears showing up on islands where they’ve never been seen before, birds maladapting to an ice-free Arctic by failing to provide enough food for their chicks, or changes in weather patterns bringing more rain or more drought or simply more variance than previously experienced, the point is that the consequences of a warming climate are already here. They are not theoretical.
And it’s not clear that they can be stopped. This study of US carbon emissions delivers what one might see as good news, with carbon emissions actually dropping from 2007 levels by 6%. But that’s until you realize that they would have to go 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 to meet what are actually inadequate climate targets. And no policies on the horizon really get us to that goal without massive innovation in the energy space. The “extended policies” scenario in the EIA charts at the link would fall well short of 17%, and that assumes the passage of a host of low-hanging fruit items that I really don’t see as plausible with the current makeup of Congress. Similarly, EPA regulation was upheld by a federal appeals court, but it’s not really proceeding at a pace that would make a big difference.
Sometimes a problem looks so hopeless that everyone gives up on even talking about it. But in 100 years or so, the remaining inhabitants of Earth will probably ONLY be talking about the failure of the world to respond to the predictable outcomes from climate change.