"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, September 27, 2008

CO2 Outputs Almost Off the Charts While Debaters Remain Unfazed

I had a disturbing dream the other night. I was at the library looking at new journals, and I began to notice that each one I picked up was very thin, and some had nothing but covers displayed on the rack. When I went to the desk to ask a librarian what was going on, she told me that most scholars had stopped researching and publishing in order to focus on personal issues. When I asked why, she told me that global warming had reached the tipping point and that humankind had sealed its fate.

More awful than that dream, the New York Times offers this nightmare that we cannot wake up from, on the status of CO2 emissions. No dream, no joke. The simple truth is this: Unless there is a global effort to educate and to act now, life on Earth as we know is doomed, easily within the lifetime of the children just entering school this year. Time is short and the clock is ticking.
Overnight the Global Carbon Project, a network of scientists tracking emissions of carbon dioxide, released its latest update, and it shows that emissions are accelerating and are close to the highest scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year.

Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press has written a summary of the carbon dioxide findings, with some input from experts who express surprise that a slowing of economic growth in some places hasn’t blunted the growth in CO2 output.

More than half of global emissions, which totaled more than 34 billion tons of CO2 in 2007, are now from developing countries, the report said. Their dominance reflects explosive growth in the burning of coal and manufacturing cement, another big source of the heat-trapping gas.

The project scientists also said that the absorptive power of oceans, forests, and other “sinks” for carbon dioxide, which typically suck in more than half of the gas emitted each year, has not kept pace with the rising emissions. In 2007, the report said, these sinks took in 54 percent of the emissions, but that is a drop of 3 percent from the long-term average rate from 1959 to 2000. . . .
What are our political debaters saying about this? Nothing. They are talking about more science and math education to compete in the global economy. There is, truly, a need for more science, but it is a desperate need for a science that will save the global economy from the environmental cataclysm that, so far, the global economy has only exacerbated. The real competition must be to find ways within our national identities and individual psyches to cooperate, rather, in the global ecology. And that is an ethical commitment that must undergird the scientific one, the scientific one that can no longer afford to eschew ethics as a way to mollify the scientific concience against the unthinkable.

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