Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where Have All The ...

There's an incredible amout of politics involved, but as the NYT reports, World Scientists Near Consensus on Warming

The headline is a bit misleading, because they're not exactly at loggerheads about warming; they're trying to come to an agreement about the wording of their report:
Scientists from across the world gathered Monday to hammer out the final details of an authoritative report on climate change that is expected to project centuries of rising temperatures and sea levels unless there are curbs in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.
That's what the report wants to say, but the wording is tricky because there's all manner of politics involved. And they're bickering over such things as whether the current rates of warming and melting will be typical in the future.
But scientists involved in the effort warned that squabbling among teams and government representatives from more than 100 countries — over how to portray the probable amount of sea-level rise during the 21st century — could distract from the basic finding that a warming world will be one in which shrinking coastlines are the new normal for centuries to come.
Ah yes, shrinking coastlines.

We might as well face it; No matter how much we try to curb the emissions of carbon gases, the atmosphere is already carrying a much higher concentration of carbon dioxide than it should, it's trapping heat at a greater rate than ever before, and the planet will continue to heat up, no matter what.

Regardless of what we do, the future will be hot, dry, and windy. And
Many economists and energy experts long ago abandoned any expectation that it would be possible to avoid a doubling of preindustrial carbon dioxide concentrations, given the growth of human populations, use of fossil fuels, particularly coal, and destruction of forests in the tropics.
As if that were not bad enough: the depleted uranium dust American troops are leaving in the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan will remain toxic for billions and billions of years. It will cling to tiny grains of sand which will be swept up in the hot dry winds that will literally cover the entire Earth. No place will be safe. And one radioactive particle, inhaled or ingested, is enough to ruin you.

"Depleted uranium" is not "depleted" of its radioactivity; it's not really depleted at all, but that's what they call it. In fact it's a waste product from the nuclear power industry, and the Pentagon likes making ammunition out of it because it's so heavy, and it burns on impact, so it can literally cut through a tank.

But you don't want to be anywhere near this stuff, because it's highly radioactive and it can not only give you cancer, but it can also scramble your DNA, causing birth defects. Thus many victims of depleted uranium contamination will have deformed children who are unable to reproduce, and then all of them -- the children and the parents -- will die horrible painful, deaths. The future will be hot, dry, windy, carcinogenic and mutagenic.

If there's one good thing we can all say about our so-called president, it's this: George Walker Bush did not start this depleted uranium madness. It was his father who did that, when he attacked Iraq in 1991. And William Jefferson Clinton -- to his eternal shame -- continued the insanity in Kosovo. But as with virtually everything else, George the younger seems intent on doing much more damage than either of his predecessors.

If it's any consolation, shrinking coastlines centuries from now will not be your problem.

They won't be anybody's problem.