May 6, 2010

A cause for some optimism

My close friends know I'm terribly pessimistic and cynical. So much so that I often revel in news that seems to herald the demise of civilization. But today, I read that CO2 emissions from energy-related sources were down 7% in 2009, on top of a 3% drop in 2008, and only one-third of that decline is from the recession. See here for more.I do still believe that humankind is basically incapable of dealing with climate change in a rational way, and in the next few hundred years between 50-90% of people will die. Moreover, the damage we've already done to existing ecosystems puts human civilization up there with asteroid impacts and gamma-ray bursts in the gallery of mass extinctions.

However, this graph shows us how CO2 emissions are within our grasp as a species. We're already more than halfway to the 17% reduction from 2005 emissions in the current Senate bill, for example. We could lick this problem easily. The necessary sacrifice and work would be a tiny fraction of that required for WWII. On balance, I still don't think we'll get our shit together until it's too late--in fact, it might be already--but at least it will be trivial bonehead squabbling that hastened our demise. Sure hope I'm wrong about that.

But what a time to be alive! Our generation will be the one close enough to the drainhole to get snarled in the nasty hair clot of God Almighty.

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