The 5th Climate Action Report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is out, and, as might have been expected, the news ain’t good. I read one chapter: Vulnerability Assessment, Climate Change Impacts, and Adaptation Measures – I wasn’t about to plow through the entire thing, and I figured this was probably the gist of it. A few grisly highlights:
• a rise in sea level of as much as four feet is ancicipated within 50–100 years.
• Portions of NYC will experience a marked increase in flooding frequency, affecting the entire transportation infrastructure, including tunnels, subways, and airports.
• By the middle of this century, Red Ozone Alert days (when the air is unhealthy for everyone) will increase by 68 percent.
• Heat is already the leading cause of U.S. weather-related deaths, with more than 3,400 deaths reported between 1999 and 2003 from excessive heat; these are expected to increase.
What the report doesn’t say, or at least this chapter doesn’t, is that changes have already happened and are happening NOW. The sea is more acidic and rising, the glaciers are melting, and the floods are flooding. We see this going on every day; it’s no big secret. The report predicts that one of the biggest effects of all this is going to be populations in transit: every time a place floods, the people who lived there will have to head for higher ground. Can you picture it? I can, because I’ve read Doris Lessing’s book Mara and Dann.
I’ve mentioned this book several times on my blog; well, that’s what’s going on in it: everyone’s on the move. Entire populations of former cities trudge through flooded areas, or muddy swamps, seeking hospitable land. They pass like ships in the night, and, of course, steal food and such from one another.
It’s a nightmarish future Lessing portrays, and it’s already happening, Earthlings. Ah, but the sky is blue today, the air is fine, let’s go for a ride in the car and spew.
As we all know, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” This increase in floods, storms, heat waves in winter and cold snaps in summer – none of these occurred when I was a kid, or even two decades ago.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Deer Hunting With Jesus, in which journalist Joe Bageant, a kind of Michael Moore character who translates the lives and philosophy of his small-town neighbors for the rest of us to understand, says the reason the Born Again crowd opposes spending money to prevent environmental disasters is that they truly believe we’re living through the End of Days, and soon we won’t need this planet. They’re expecting to be saved, they call the experience The Rapture, so eat and drink what you like and to hell with our bodies and Mother Earth, Halleluliah I’m a –waitin’ for Jesus!
Happy Earth Day.