Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sick Minds are Killing the Earth's Sound Body

Source: The Belleville Intelligencer
Sick minds are killing the Earth's sound body

six years of Latin and Greek -- keeps on influencing me. While I was searching for a topic for my next column, a Latin phrase popped up in my mind: mens sana in corpore sano: a sound mind in a sound body.

Actually my thoughts went more in the opposite direction: a sick mind in a sick body, when I read that although in the United States in a recent survey 62 per cent of the people were of the opinion that their house value has remained constant or had increased, in reality 77 per cent of all homes there have fallen in value.

Another astonishing statistic is that a full one-third of all homes built in the last five years have a mortgage larger than its value.

What applies to public knowledge about housing is also true for climate change: there too accurate knowledge is missing or ignored.

For all practical purposes our world, our old world that we have inhabited for the last 12,000 years, has ended: we now must be prepared for radical climate instability, which will be accompanied by massive extinctions and global migrations.

Who is my source? None other than some of the most prominent researchers of the Fourth Assessment Report issued last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Never believe politicians: they tell us that wealth generated from higher energy prices will ultimately find its way to new technologies and renewable energy.

The sorry truth is that this statement of faith too is just as ill-founded as U. S. homeowners assuming that their residential real estate has increased in value.

As a matter of fact, the economic costs, technological hurdles, and the radical changes in people's mindsets needed to tame the growth of greenhouse gases are so immense that it would require a totally different humanity to accomplish it.

Take Europe, so praised for its climate-friendly policies, yet energy use there, since 2000, has risen while carbon dioxide emissions have even grown marginally faster.

And in North America? Alberta with its oil-sand-derived-sin-against-humanity-fuel, and the U. S. with its farmers' pleasing climate busting senseless biofuel both create only larger problems: frankly nobody wants to make the sacrifices required to save the world.

The sober reality is that worldwide coal production -- the worst of all fuels -- is seeing a re-birth: the filthy 19th coal-century has come back with a vengeance, especially in Olympic-host China.

There, hundreds of thousands of miners are now working under conditions that would have appalled Charles Dickens, extracting the dirty mineral that allows China to open two new coal-fueled power stations every week.

Meanwhile, the total consumption of fossil fuels is predicted to increase at least 55 per cent over the next generation. This time around not miners in Wales or the inhabitants of London are the victims: the life of our planet is at stake.

The United Nations Development Program warns that it will require "a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 2050 against 1990 levels" to keep humanity outside the red zone of runaway warming -- usually defined as a greater than two degrees centigrade increase this century.

Yet the International Energy Agency predicts that, in all likelihood, such emissions will actually increase in this period by nearly 100 per cent -- enough greenhouse gas to propel us past several critical tipping points.

Already the Arctic is melting at a rate not expected for 20 to 30 years. This means that the methane now sealed in the permafrost will burst out accelerating the speed of global warming immensely.

There are credible, well-researched reports that even a few more degrees of temperature rise in the arctic regions of Siberia and northern North America will release as much 400 gigatons of methane gas trapped in a frozen state for millennia -- which would cause global temperatures to soar to levels not seen in 250 million years (methane is 20 times as potent a global warming gas as CO2).

Vast regions of Siberia are already bubbling methane as the permafrost line moves north. There is feedback at work here: more heat will give more gas, which will give more heat, which...

By the way our warmest weather lately has been in Churchill, Man., the home of the polar bears.

The current chaotic market and weather conditions are a faint flicker compared to the cosmic changes that will grow by leaps and bounds when resource depletion, intractable inequality and climate change converge.

The real danger is that human solidarity itself, like a Antarctic ice shelf, will suddenly fracture and shatter into a thousand shards. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano?

This and previous columns can be seen at

This author knows very well, we are heading to a tipping point of no return of climate change, while the majority of people of the world, are still in ignorance.

I urge you to do your part, be counted! The long term and most effective solution, is by turning to a plant-based diet.


molly said...

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Anonymous said...

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Great to know there are others out there sharing the same awareness. Thanks again, Heaven bless your noble effort :)