style="float: right; margin: 0 10px" >Lost in a haze of hyperreal distractions and the
weakening of our body politic, we forget in fact how our planet came
into being: Violent eruptions, long periods of stability, sometimes
equilibrium. But its eruptions were serious, and nothing to shrug off.
I'm talking extinction events like href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian-Triassic_extinction_event"
target="blank">the Permian-Triassic, romantically known as
the "Great Dying", a climate change nightmare to end all nightmares.
The hangover took millions of years to recover from.
So it would stand to reason -- ah, those were the days -- that were
such events heading our way, we'd do something about them faster than
Blackwater. We'd fire indiscriminately into the encroaching dangers,
run like hell to our Green zones, and wait out the storm. But we're
And things are getting worse. Exponentially worse.
According to a href="http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/10/08/4409"
target="blank">reports, the InterGovernmental Panel on
Climate Change was off in its estimates. Way off, as expected if you
were a student of exponents, which have a tendency not to accrue in
equal chunks but snowball over themselves, growing bigger by the
revolution. Speaking of snowballs, the IPCC misread our quickly
shrinking sea ice, which has unmoored itself from itself and is now
snowballing into the ocean-at-large at increasing rates. It figured
the melt would be measurable, which is another way of saying an amount
it could lowball to a public too busy with aptly named virtual
realities like Survivor, style="font-style:italic;">Lost, Second Life and so on. But the
IPCC failed to see the replicating threat on the horizon.
height="210" width="313" style="float: left; margin: 0 10px" >In short, the IPCC claimed the
melt would tickle global coastlines with 20 to 60 centimetres of
water, but it was wrong. The figure has now exponentially grown to two
metres and climbing, which is over six feet for those on the inch
standard. And if you think that's Chicken Little talking, style="font-weight:bold;">href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/TenWays/Story?id=3602227&page=1"
target="blank">take a look at these maps illustrating some
of America's coolest cities, post-deluge. They might change your mind.
The reality is, fittingly, worthy of disaster cinema. Holes have
developed in the sea ice through which water as large as Niagara Falls
has plummeted back to the ocean, greasing the wheels, so to speak, for
an even faster melt. Which in turn, getting back again to exponents,
is pushing the ice across the sea even faster, and so on. Speaking of
disaster cinema, how about this blockbuster? The glacier at Ilulissat,
rumored grandpa of the iceberg that sank the style="font-style:italic;">href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_%281997_film%29"
target="blank">Titantic, is now hurtling three times faster
into the sea than it was a decade ago. Other glaciers and ice shelves
are doing the same dance of doom.
And they're coming our way.
Think of them as one giant pain machine made of ice, skating across
the planet to smack down some land and its self-important inhabitants.
Think of it as Saddam plus Osama plus Kim Jong plus Iran plus every
other creep you've been arming yourselves against. Think of it as the
Bush administration, extraordinary renditioning you into Egypt for
some "coercive interrogation."
But think of it. Because if the IPCC got the depth wrong, they almost
certainly got the dates wrong. And they were giving an ETA of around
2100 for the worst of what global warming has to throw at humanity.
That deadline has now been upgraded to, well, how does tomorrow work
I'm not kidding. Because it's not just water that's plunging into the
ocean and jacking up coastlines and currents, screwing the equilibrium
that has allowed Earth to stay cool for thousands of years. It's also
sediment, plants, animals and much more, matter of all types torn
apart by the earthquakes and other violent eruptions these melts have
caused. Call it the "Great Drowning." At least for now.
Because it's about to get hot in here. Real hot. Once those ice
shelves melt, they'll no longer be around to reflect the sun. That
will be left to the sea, which will heat and blast out the type of CO2
emissions that would make Exxon, Chevron and onward proud. And all of
it will happen faster and faster until the new equilibrium comes.
Our time would be better spent on issues other than batshit pop stars
or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It would be better spent on things like
living, breathing, not dying by our own hands. It would be better
spent thinking about how to capitalize on our own misfortune, an irony
that still hasn't settled in even though I wrote it moments ago. It
would be better spent working this problem than any other cultural,
religious or racial hyperrealities built to sucker us into thinking
we're different from each other and don't want our spaces invaded.
Because we're not different from each other in the slightest. We're
all earthlings, and we're all going to find out what that means before
2100 comes to pass. Likely we will find out that we are different not
from each other, but from every other species in the universe. Which
means our time would be better spent right now, not tomorrow, not when
our kids wake up and ask us, "What the fuck were you thinking?" We
want to have a good answer for them. We had them, after all. We should
have known better.