The recent movie An Inconvenient Truth does a great job of laying out the problem of global warming, something with consequences that many of us don’t even want to begin to consider. I understand this mentality. People didn’t want to consider the consequences of having a major hurricane hit New Orleans either, even though it was highly likely to happen. The likely ramifications of global warming will make the Katrina devastation look like a minor inconvenience. One measure of global warming has to do with the rate at which ice caps are melting.
We’ve known that Greenland is melting, and we’ve even been able to calculate the rate of the melting. Now we learn that data from a NASA satellite shows that the melting rate has accelerated since 2004. This report shows that our fragile planet is the hottest it’s been in over 400 years, which helps explain the Greenland situation. If the ice cap were to completely disappear, global sea levels would rise by as much as 20 feet. Here in New Orleans that would obviously be the sort of problem that a state-of-the-art levee system would not do much to help prevent. Sigh.
I have this strange feeling that we’re entering an era that’s going to challenge our ability to act swiftly to address major global issues, new energy sources, global warming, terrorism (and entrenched prejudice and hatred) being chief among them. Are we ready for this new challenge? I don’t know, but it’s not looking good.