If you’re worried about the climate crisis happening in the future, your stress is misplaced. It’s happening right damn now. All around us, the weather is changing, the oceans are changing, the ice is changing. The only thing that isn’t changing fast enough is us.
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
Even still, the climate crisis isn’t even a blip on the radar for most Americans. Polls show it in the single digits in terms of issue importance. But it really ought to be number one on that list. Ultimately the planet will be fine and dandy. Humans, on the other hand, are going to be increasingly screwed.