Global Warming, Part Four

2 May

From .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

To summarize, there is significant evidence that there is not a big danger for the earth as a whole from global warming or population increase. According to the World Meteorological Organization, globally-averaged temperatures in 2011 were estimated to be .7° Fahrenheit (0.40° Celsius) above the 1961-1990 annual average. The WMO does acknowledge that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are at historically high levels. The combined statistics, though, seem to be saying that greenhouse gases are not a major threat to the planet.

A significant portion of this small increase in globally-averaged temperature increases can be attributed to natural fluctuations such as population increase, changes in weather patterns around the globe, and even to very small changes in the tilt of the earth as it rotates.

Even so, the public is inundated by charts showing catastrophic geometric progressions of warming, destruction, and chaos. All these projections are entirely speculative in nature, and have no basis in reality. Most of us humans can’t really say with certainty what will happen tomorrow, much less next year.

Although we have no Starship Enterprise, nevertheless we boldly go where no man has gone before: setting up secondary markets for carbon credits, shutting down or hobbling legitimate manufacturing facilities, establishing ever tighter emission controls for motor vehicles. All these and more are expensive, short-term, popular, and unproven solutions to very ill-defined problems.

The short-termism can be seen as coming from the “Information Age” where every opinion (including mine) and every catastrophic event is presented in real-time to everyone in the civilized world. Worried people demand immediate action on these fragments of information.

I urge those who believe we are on the edge of the extinction of mankind to look deep inside your own soul and face what you fear most in your own life. Get past these personal fears in your own life, and you’ll get to a place of YOUR OWN harmony with the earth.

Don’t be so quick to blame corporations and plastic bags and the burgeoning multitudes of souls for the woes of the earth. Be very slow to blame all the natural phenomena which are arising as nature adjusts in its own way, a way which we can’t control. Try to stop focusing on doomsday and the need for quick, unproven and very expensive “fixes” for the earth.

There’s more than a little delusion of grandeur within individuals, when they believe they and their politicians can “save the earth” from ultimate destruction. The earth will adjust as it will, and magnificent policies and billions in spending won’t change a thing. The changes which are ultimately needed are changes within ourselves which will remove fear and restore personal harmony inside our bodies, in our relationships, and in our communities.

The “New Earth” requires new visions, not new rounds of blame and finger-pointing. The first vision must be stirred within each of us. Only then can we find adequate solutions for the actual problems which confront us with regard to global warming and the environment.

Let me give one example of “New Earth” thinking. We can say with some degree of certainty that there will be a rise in sea levels due to global warming. So why isn’t anyone looking at the coastal areas in the United States and around the world that will be inundated or flooded by the rise in sea level? We need to begin right now to find ways to encourage people to relocate from areas which will be inundated by the ocean over the next fifty years. If we start now, the long-term consequences will not be severe.

Governments can stop issuing building permits for areas within zones likely to be affected by the rise in sea level. The government and private insurers should phase out the issuance of flood insurance policies in these areas. Banks should avoid giving thirty-year mortgages in such areas. Planners should begin founding new city centers on higher ground not far from the old cities which are in these areas. It takes all of us, working together, to adjust with the least amount of pain to the rising sea levels.

New Orleans is a prime example of an urban area which will be significantly affected by the rise in sea levels. Brad Pitt should stop encouraging the rebuilding of New Orleans, and should never have started doing so. There should never have been any rebuilding. The city should have been, and still should be, moved to higher ground. When coastal floods such as Hurricane Sandy wipe out homes there should be no new building. Find a location on higher ground, and flood insurance proceeds can be used to build in the new location. The government should begin to phase out new construction of levees in flood plains, and mortgage lenders should stop approving new mortgages in flood-prone coastal areas. And so on. If we all work together, the relocations will not hurt too much.

More significantly, governments at all levels should announce right now that they will not use tax money to pay for private losses due to rising sea levels. Give people advance warning that they are on their own if they persist in coastal flood plain building. The rising sea levels are an entirely natural phenomenon. The government didn’t create the problem, and tax money paid out to those who ignore the warnings is a grave misuse of the system (except for help with immediate disaster relief).

There seems to be a lot of male testosterone flaring up in the current “solutions” to global warming. We have to tear down smokestacks, spend money to dig and bludgeon the earth into submission. There needs to be an infusion of feminine energy in the process, to achieve a spiritual balance in the process of reaching toward the “New Earth.” Here’s a quote I found in John Steinbeck’s classic novel, THE GRAPES OF WRATH:

“We got nothin’, now,” Pa said…. “Git so I hate to think. Go diggin’ back to an old time to keep from thinkin’. Seems like our life’s over an’ done.”

“No, it ain’t,” Ma smiled. “It ain’t, Pa. An’ that’s one more thing a woman knows. I noticed that. Man, he lives in jerks – baby born an’ a man dies, an’ that’s a jerk – gets a farm an’ loses a farm, an’ that’s a jerk. Woman, it’s all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on…. We ain’t gonna die out. People is goin’ on – changin’ a little, maybe, but goin’ right on.”

“How can you tell?” Uncle John demanded. What’s to keep ever’thing from stoppin’; all the folks from just gittin’ tired an’ layin’ down?”

“Hard to say,” she said…. “Just try to live the day, just the day.”

Let’s now summarize what we’ve learned about global warming and population. First, the “New Earth” is a warmer place than at any time during human history, and greenhouse gases are here to stay. Second, the “New Earth” will always have a greater population than it’s had at any time in human history.

There’s an old expression, “If you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em.” Trying to roll back global warming, through megalomaniac efforts to stop industry, commerce and transportation from releasing carbon into the atmosphere, is not feasible. We now have in place sufficient laws, rules and regulations to prevent or reduce most of the preventable noxious discharges. Adding more of the same will impose an intolerable burden on industry and commerce and will have little or no effect on global warming and carbon emission.

Much of what now passes for environmental activism is actually untethered fear-mongering. “Sensationalism, whether for good or ill, sells,” says Robert J. Samuelson in his 2010 book The Great Inflation and its Aftermath. “We may weaken our productive machine by…. an uncritical reaction to the possibility of global warming that may cause us to undertake costly policies that, in the end, do little to affect global warming but do weaken our economy’s performance.”

Dr. Bengt Skarstam has said flatly that global warming may be a good thing. HOW CAN THAT BE????? First, Dr. Skarstam lives in Sweden, which is a very cold country. From his perspective a warmer Scandinavian region may make life a little more comfortable for himself and all his fellow countrymen :>)

Yet there is a great deal more insight involved in Dr. Skarstam’s statement. First, we can’t reverse global warming. So let us re-cast it from being a “problem;” make global warming an active part of the “New Earth” solutions which will inevitably emerge from the fertile and sometimes febrile imagination of the scientific community. With the active acceptance of global warming, new political and social ideas will inevitably arise which do not involve the repression and destruction of commerce and industry. With seven billion souls on the planet, we need huge increases in commerce and industry in order to alleviate the poverty which strangles so many of our fellow planetary citizens.

I’m not trying to gloss over the difficult changes we will see as a result of global warming. I’m simply trying to point out that there are some benefits the planet will gain. We are already seeing that the melting of the Arctic ice cap is opening access to vast new deposits of high value ores and oil reserves, which could be sufficient to supply a warmer world for the next hundred or more years beyond our currently identified available resources.

What if all the ice on the island of Greenland melts? According to the CIA World Factbook, Greenland consists of 2,166,086 sq. km (410,449 sq. km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq. km ice-covered); a land area slightly more than three times the size of Texas. It is owned by Denmark, which has a total land area of 43,094 sq. km. Assuming there are oil and ore deposits under the Greenland ice pack, little Denmark could become a major world economic player as a result of global warming.

It’s also fairly certain that mankind will evolve or adapt in a fairly short time to the increased levels of carbon and heat in the atmosphere. We don’t know exactly what this Darwinian evolution will look like, yet it will happen, and it’s an established scientific theory that most of the evolution of our species has been in the direction of greater strength and intellectual capacity.

One of the many problems created by increasing population and global warming is a greatly increased worldwide competition for increasingly limited supplies of fresh water. Some of our more evolved and febrile scientists will inevitably come up with economically feasible ways to desalinize sea water and remove contaminants from industrial and human waste water. Current methods are just too expensive for widespread use. Although the developed world does a good job of removing contaminants from waste water, there is not any structure at all in place for the most part in countries like India. And even the developed world is struggling with the negative consequences of too little fresh water per se.

One possible near-term solution is to set up thousands of acres or even hundreds of square miles of sea-water evaporating pans; which will be heated by sunlight to remove the largest part of the salt or contaminants by simple distillation. Then powered plants will only have to remove the “last ten per cent” of the salt or contaminants, making them not so expensive. Huge fields of warming pans could be set up in central Texas, or even in the deserts of Iran. Ocean water could be pumped to the distillation fields. The resulting fresh water could be distributed using networks of pipes like the spokes of a wheel.

The point is, if we accept the inevitability of a warmer and drier earth, even embrace it, we will inevitably find solutions to the problems which must be solved. As long as we spend our money and energy on fighting the problem, and relying on the sensational, we will overlook things which can make the “New Earth” a better place for life of all kinds to exist and flourish.

So it’s mostly fearful thinking and feeling which separates us from the benefits of global warming. Living in fear is also one of the characteristics of an unhappy person. If we can evolve to a loving acceptance of these things we fear, our lives will be much more contented. We will also be in a better position psychologically and emotionally to make the best of the world we have and to create the “New Earth” we all so ardently desire.

To use the language of Robert J. Samuelson in a different context, the real source of our environmental errors is in the prevailing doctrines. Blaming industry and commerce for the increase in global warming results in a smug and ruinous complacency, which allows us to lash out at a scapegoat rather than looking at what we can do right now with what we have right now.

Once we reduce our fearful and desperate quest to stop global warming and population growth by our “righteous” and simplistic attacks on industry and commerce, we can clear our heads and concentrate on ameliorating its effects. Most of the time, the demonstrable things we can actually do to “dance with” global warming and population growth are ignored, in the rush of panicked thinking about stopping global warming and population growth, which we can’t do.

A global rise in sea levels is one of the most certain consequences of the “New Earth.” Yet most opinion leaders and scientists have nothing to say about what actually needs to be done when sea levels rise. There is a huge mental disconnect brought on by fear of the loss of property values in coastal properties and low-lying cities. Planners can begin by drawing boundaries around coastal areas which are projected to be flooded or unusable if there is a three-foot rise in sea level.

Drawing these boundaries, though, will result in an immediate and irreversible loss in property value for all buildings and land inside the three-foot boundaries. These losses in value can be ameliorated to some extent if these same planners give projections that the three-foot sea level rise will not occur for fifty years, or for whatever is a responsible and supportable time frame.

Probably more than half of all the homes and buildings in the three-foot zone will already be twenty or thirty years old, which means they will retain value for most of the rest of their useful life. Raw land and the land under existing structures will not retain much value, though. There will be considerable financial losses for coastal land-owners and developers. Planning will need to include refusal to issue building permits for new structures.

Perhaps the government could set up a fund such as the FDIC, and owners can pay in each year, with some payout to be made when land or a building is actually lost. The government should not be looked to as responsible for paying for these natural losses which are the inevitable result of a warmer planet. By starting now, though, the private losses will occur over a long period of time and will be more manageable.

Right now almost no one is looking at the obvious and knowable actions that need to be taken. Simplistic battles against the earth as it is make better headlines, and are easier to deal with than absorbing the more complex strategies necessary to adjust to the changes which will happen within the lifetimes of our children. It’s easier to devote ourselves to despair than to look with love at the world we actually have, and live on it gracefully.

This is part four of a four part series.

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