Psychological factors are now playing a key role in our failure to address the looming climate crisis. While analyzing what's going on the psychology, I'll summarize the climate science that's being denied, including the knock-on consequences of global overheating that we're already suffering from.
For physicians, the window of opportunity for intervening successfully has become part of their training; they know how fleeting an opportunity can be. So here's a "second opinion" about the climate diagnosis, the prognosis if untreated, and what treatments might actually fix the climate problem—rather than merely delaying civilization's collapse by a few decades.
Carbon sequestration must be big and quick
This what-to-do-about-it lecture (also available as a podcast mp3) for UW oceanography focuses on abrupt climate changes since 1976, how to head off more, and how to use the oceans to sequester enough carbon. Several slides are for the experts, but the rest is suitable for a general scientific audience. Others familiar with the climate story will be able to follow it as well.
A lecture for NASA's Green Series at the Langley Research Center by Prof. William H. Calvin of the University of Washington in Seattle.
Sea level is rising, heat waves are killing, oceans acidifying, coral reefs bleaching, fisheries declining, deserts expanding, and unfamiliar insects arriving. Hurricanes are stronger. Each decade since 1950, there have been more floods and more wildfires.
The climate doctors have been consulted; the lab reports have come back. Now it's time to pull together the Big Picture and discuss treatment options.
The diagnosis? The Earth is now dressed too warmly. We're causing our planet to run a fever as we keep piling on those invisible greenhouse-gas blankets generated by cutting down forests, making cement, constantly tilling the soil, spreading fertilizer, leaking natural gas, and—worst of all—burning coal, oil, and natural gas.
The outlook is for much more global fever and major ... more
A televised lecture on the climate crisis by William H. Calvin, given in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, December 2007.
Thanks to upsetting our climate with a series of low-tech practices such as cutting down forests, tilling the soil, and—worst of all—burning fossil fuels, we are rapidly approaching a use-it-or-lose-it intelligence test.
The outlook is for a higher fever, with droughts that just won't quit. Extreme weather will keep trashing the place. Tipping points will lead to demolition derbies, as when the Amazon or Borneo rain forest burns, or a major city is inundated.
Absent effective treatment of climate disease, the students of today will face an unpleasant, chaotic future—not merely hotter summers. Unless we get our act together very quickly—the next ten years—and on a global scale, our legacy could be genocidal downsizing.
Yet all we hear about is a low-carbon energy diet over the decades: conserve energy, emphasiz... more