Are we facing a test?

Ecology Matters by Duke Vasey

It's clear that climate will change some things we know. Is that bad?

When asked about climate, the typical person has a “Joe Btfsplk” look. Joe was the world's worst jinx; had a perpetually dark rain cloud over his head; instantaneous bad luck befell anyone unfortunate enough to be in his vicinity.

Though well-meaning and friendly, his reputation inevitably precedes him, so Joe is a very lonely little man. He has an apparently unpronounceable name, but creator Al Capp "pronounced" Btfsplk by simply blowing a "raspberry," or Bronx cheer. Joe's personal black cloud became one of the most iconic images in the strip “Li'l Abner” and his profile describes those who want us to assume that the way things are now is the way they are supposed to be.

Biology tells us that a species will die if there is an inability to metabolize, reproduce and adapt! Let’s pretend that the Earth has a correct temperature; sea level; size of ice cap; concentration of gases in the atmosphere; degree of forestation and complement of plants and animals, etc.

Why then do scientists speculate about how long it will take to stop global warming and then roll back? Once the Earth has stabilized at a higher temperature, the biosphere will be adapted to those conditions. Rolling things back will not resurrect the species lost along the way and will harm the plants and animals at home in the new conditions.

Most climate change models have us moving toward an average worldwide temperature 10 degrees warmer than 1000 years ago. If, coming out of the ice ages, the atmosphere had stabilized at that temperature instead of where it did—without polar bears--do you think we would now call that temperature correct and that we would fear a decrease to the temperature we are currently so desperate to preserve?

Can we stop climate change? Who knows. Can we adapt to it? We’d better. Will there be extinctions? Yes, like the 30 billon that has already occurred. Is extinction tragic? I suppose, in the way that everything about life is tragic, embedded as it is in our indifferent universe.

Human extinction would be tragic beyond measure and that will occur if we can’t metabolize, reproduce and adapt.


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