The 6.585 x 10^21 ton elephant in the room

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I began thinking about global warming again today, sparked by a posting by Christopher Bigelow—or rather, by a couple of the complacent jackasses who responded to the post. (Sorry if they're friends of yours, Chris.)

While I think it's nice that Time did finally get around to covering the story in a big way, I think the three-part New Yorker series by Elizabeth Kolbert that ran a year ago was much better and should be required reading. Before I lose them again, here are the links to the Kolbert stories:

These stories are remarkable not just for the way they build from a few telling anecdotes to inevitable conclusions of frightening scope, but for the fact that they address what realistic solutions to the problem would consist of. And those solutions are harder now than they were a year ago, and harder a year ago than they would have been a decade ago. These stories should be required reading blah blah blah, but how many people do you know who would be willing to read the equivalent of a small depresssing book about a problem that will change life on Earth in our short spans of time?

Me neither.

A "Talk of the Town" piece by Kolbert from the March 20th New Yorker continues the saga. She details the findings gleaned from two satellites nicknamed Tom and Jerry that measure changes in the earth's gravitational field, and these measurements tell us that Antarctica is losing water at an alarming rate—more than anyone suspected. She concludes:

A project like Tom and Jerry demonstrates all the strengths of American science: technological sophistication, restless curiosity, and monumental budgets. But, at the same time, it points to the fundamental disconnect in our culture. Why spend tens of millions of dollars to produce such an elegant set of measurements only to ignore them? With knowledge comes responsibility, and so it is that we turn from the knowledge we have gone to such lengths to acquire.
This is the biggest story of our time, friends. Bigger, yes, than the possibility of nuclear war with Iran, or anything else you can think of. And what are we going to do about it except watch it happen while continuing to deny it's anything to worry about?

Hell, I don't blame you for not wanting to think about it. I sure don't want to think about it.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/290812.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on April 12, 2006 5:35 PM.

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