By Elaine Meinel Supkis
The Kyoto Accords are dead. Bush and the USA killed them. We are puzzled about how to save our cities as they face certain destruction. Pay no attention! Seems like we are in for some really fun times!From the NYT:
Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work.
A major reason the optimism over Kyoto has eroded so rapidly is that its major requirement - that 38 participating industrialized countries cut their greenhouse emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2012 - was seen as just a first step toward increasingly aggressive cuts.
But in the years after the protocol was announced, developing countries, including the fast-growing giants China and India, have held firm on their insistence that they would accept no emissions cuts, even though they are likely to be the world's dominant source of greenhouse gases in coming years.
Their refusal helped fuel strong opposition to the treaty in the United States Senate and its eventual rejection by President Bush.
But the current stalemate is not just because of the inadequacies of the protocol. It is also a response to the world's ballooning energy appetite, which, largely because of economic growth in China, has exceeded almost everyone's expectations. And there are still no viable alternatives to fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases.
Then, too, there is a growing recognition of the economic costs incurred by signing on to the Kyoto Protocol.
We will celebrate the death of the Kyoto Accords by rebuilding New Orleans so hurricanes can destroy it all again next year. Whoopee.
This article, like nearly all the articles I read about the crisis facing humanity, namely our extinction after we destroy this one and only planet of ours, has a strong streak of fatalism. "We can't change so why bother?" seems to be the attitude of nearly all the participants as well as humans in general. Even as we utterly dominate nearly all eco-niches of the planet, we pretend more and more that we have absolutely no control over our destinies.
Like grossly overweight humans pretending they have no control over how they eat and what they eat, we in general are pretending our devouring of the earth isn't something we can alter or channel creatively. For example, energy. Everyone uses as much energy as they can access. This is human nature. Doing this is destroying the planet. Duh. So we build ever bigger, ever more energy dependent bubbles to live in so we can fend off the dire side effects as much as possible.
In heat waves, I have noted this in cities. The hot, stagnant, polluted air is nearly unbreathable. So everyone cranks up the airconditioners and this creates not only more pollution, more greenhouse gas, it even heats up the immediate neighborhood! Namely, hot air pours out of airconditioners! So on every level, it is destructive but if you don't join in and make things worse, you might die of the heat so the cycle ratchets up ever higher!
The BBC has an amusing article about a geologist trying to sell in San Francisco a book about doomed cities like the Bay Area. The author tries to calm everyone by talking about how Tokyo deals with earthquakes. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell his audience the bad news: many of the people in Tokyo lost not only all they owned but died in the last great quake there.From the BBC:
San Francisco: A city in waiting?
By Simon Winchester
If you have written a book suggesting that San Francisco could soon be levelled by a massive earthquake, you may find Californians a little reluctant to accept your message. Author Simon Winchester's idea that the US of the future could contain a number of ruined and abandoned cities has met a frosty reception.
Casandra was not very popular, either. "You are doomed", isn't a great holiday greeting although I would just love to see that on Walmart banners. At least, they should tell the truth. "Abandon all hope ye who enter here" should be appropriate in mall entrances, no?
A little less than a century ago it was utterly destroyed in one of the world's most infamous earthquakes and the geologists who today study the San Andreas fault that runs underneath it predict that the time is more than ripe for a replay of that terrible event.
Denial seems a powerful component of life in seismically active parts of America
A greater than 60% chance, they say, of a big calamity in the Bay Area, sometime in the next quarter century.
This is not a message the local residents like to hear.
A week ago I was giving a talk in a bookstore on Market Street and saw a long white envelope on the podium, marked for me.
I imagined, optimistically, that it was a cheque. It turned out to be anything but: an anonymous letter, urging me to get out of town.
"You geologists," it began.
"If you can tell us we have three hours' warning, fine. But if you simply want to tell us that we live somewhere dangerous and that a quake might happen, well, we don't want to hear, thanks very much.
There are a rash of books about how civilizations collapse, how cities disappear. Comforting the people of SF by telling them Tokyo "survived" destruction...Well, they did. The Great Kanto Quake
destroyed the city, killed 140,000 people and destroyed the homes of about a million people. Great. Then, 20 years later, we firebombed the place with another 150,000+ dead and millions of homes destroyed! The replacements are from the peasant outlands that were not hit by disaster.
The disaster hitting now is, the world's dispossessed and poor are multiplying rapidly and pouring into the cities at a huge rate, this is ongoing across the planet. And once in the cities, they strive as swiftly as possible to enter into and occupy the energy intensive bubble which is expanding at a tremendous rate. The Hubbert Oil Peak is nearly here. Already, all forms of energy are climbing in cost in lockstep. There is no escaping this. Any energy system that is temporarily cheaper becomes less so as it is sucked into the maw of the energy intensive bubble machine that is also sucking in the mass of humanity.
As the environment becomes more and more unstable and violent, more surivors run into the cities. All cities end up being destroyed over the long run. History tells us this. Massacres, fires, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes, bombs and disease can clean out cities. One of the worse is desertifcation. This annihilates cities usually forever. They can be reestablished, note that Arizona had "cities" once, Coronado heard about them and went searching, but the cities were abandoned during the 50 drought that ravaged Arizona and New Mexico in 1200 AD. They were long empty. Now there are much bigger cities there, kept alive by water from the Rockies, water that must fall as snow and slowly perculate into the water basins, feeding them year-round. And with global warming comes no more snow in the Rockies, already the rivers are drying up in summer.
The push to solve our energy problems won't be easily solved with the present system. We will have to backtrack severely. India and China has had huge populations with little outside energy, humans carried/pushed/moved everything by hand, themselves, and died like flies but were easily replaced. Ask any slave owner. It is a cruel system which died out with the advent of easy, cheap energy.From Yahoo:
Three months after Hurricane Katrina, we know that damage is enormous. We know that it will cost billions of dollars to rebuild New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. What we don't know is where the money will come from.
Louisiana's congressional delegation introduced legislation in September calling for a $212 billion federally funded rebuilding effort; fiscal conservatives scotched the proposal.
Even a more modest request for $32 billion to strengthen Louisiana's flood defenses so they could withstand a Category 5 hurricane — the current standard is Category 3 — has drawn a tepid response from the Bush administration.
New Orleans is a perfect example of a doomed city. Venice is doomed, too, but not to the extent of New Orleans. They don't have catagory five hurricanes in the Mediterranean. New Orleans was a tremendous community in its heyday. But it can't be simply rejiggered. With global warming, it is pretty much doomed like Alexandria. Cairo replaced that city just as some city will grow where it is more logical, too, on the Mississippi River. Some things can't be brought back.
Of course, we are spending most of our precious treasure on Iraq. So we must resign ourselves to losing a few more major cities like San Francisco in the future. And then there is the Tokyo example: much of Japanese entertainment is about how everyone in Tokyo is going to be annihilated one way or another. They are very pessimistic. And for good reason. To return to homepage click hereTo read more science news click here