Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Earth Day Prognosis: Horrific!

As many of us remember Earth Day today, it is well to consider the prognosis for the planet and by that I mean Earth as a human habitat, not merely an inanimate agglomeration of rock, soil, water that exists independent of us. Obviously such a sterile entity would continue to exist long past our human demise, and at least until the Sun enters its Red Giant phase.

In terms of Earth as home for humans, the prognosis isn't good. Already, the expectations of increased water shortages - such as repored in 'The State of the World' annual reports, is that we may well be looking at water catastrophes. This is not only in terms of ever diminishing potable supplies (owing to climate change) but also from increased pollution of water sources, and water sheds.

For example, in Nigeria the populace must contend with contamination of available water sources with oil, and oil leaking from ruptures in antiquated supply lines. In the U.S. we may face the same thing if the Keystone Pipeline is ever approved, because we know its pipeline material is much less trustworthy than say, the Alaska Pipeline.

Meanwhile, nearly 57% of U.S. watersheds are now contaminated with everything from benzene and tossed out pharmaceuticals to potassium perchlorate or rocket fuel. Is it any wonder that cancer rates keep rising in many parts of the nation. (And if Romney gets elected, one of his first enunciated Executive Orders will be to repeal further water regs, even as he vows to repeal "Obamacare" if the Supremes should allow it to go forward.)

Meanwhile, as the Maldives are soon to be the first "canary in the coal mine" claimed from sea level rise due to climate change, deniers and their PR henchmen continue to spread the lie that it's a myth. Just this past Wednesday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a 594-page study indicating that observations since 1950 disclose a "change in some extremes" tied to global warming.

The report is the product of a collaboration between 220 authors and from 62 countries. As with earlier reports, in the words of Daniel Schrag, Harvard professor of geochemistry and director of the Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography,

"The breadth that gives its findings weight – over 3,000 scientists, reviewers, and government officials – means that consensus had to be reached across broad points of view, including those from countries whose economies are based on oil production. "

In effect, as he notes, because of such incorporation of broad points of view, all such reports "inevitably reflect a conservative view. This isn't something coming from Greenpeace."

But, of course, the planetary rapists of the Right will never see it that way. To them, anyone who speaks up for the human stewardship of the planet and who defends the judicious conservation of its resources for all- not just capitalist plunderers- will be tagged as a "socialist", commie, terrorist, traitor or worse...."tree hugger".

In the same IPCC report, the projection is made that there is a 90-100 % probability that sea rise "will contribute to upward trends in extreme coastal high water levels in the future."

To fix ideas on this, the attached map from the U.S. Geological survey shows the projected area of Florida which will be reclaimed by the sea by 2035.

What will happen to the millions that live there? Well, they will either have to learn how to swim non-stop, build their own large water craft, or move north!

Meanwhile, as an additional consequence of climate change- warming, once tropical insect species are now invading large swatches of the temperate zones - even as resistance to antibiotic infections increases. What will then happen when severe insect bites from tropical species, say a particular large Wolf spider that inhabits Trinidad, occurs with dismaying frequency in the States - causing massive, suppurating wounds and infections - but there is no antibiotic to treat it?

Well, perhaps people will go back to herbal remedies, and maybe "prayer" - given that recent polls now show 25% of U.S. citizens think that "prayer is a bona fide form of health care."

No wonder so many think Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is foolish government "intrusion".

Maybe they won't think that after legions of pests including: Trinidadian Jack Spaniards, fire ants, Marabunta, schistosome-infected snails, tse-tse flies, Leptospirotic rats, rabid vampire bats and other vermin overrun our shores, even as drinkable water and antibiotics run out. But by then, of course, it will be too late.

Happy Earth Day!

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