Monday, May 20, 2013

Are we still in Kansas?   (Science Fiction)

Venus Loop is a purely fictional story of a planet destroyed by its own pollution.

But, once again, reality is inching closer to the horrors of science fiction.  Our darkest fantasies seem to creep closer every year.  Wildfires.  Droughts.  Coastal flooding.  Now, tornadoes tearing their way across the plain states.  Storms breaking hundred year records coming one upon the other in just a few days.   (Where's the great and powerful Oz when you need him?)

Yes, Virginia:  It's global warming.  Complicated in its details, yes, but basically simple.  Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting from the burning of fossil fuels trap the sun's heat, causing the world to grow warmer, decade by decade.  As the temperature rises, glaciers melt, the sea level rises.  Which means more moisture and warmer air over the sea.  The result, of course, is more powerful storms in greater frequency.

I've been blogging about global warming for what seems like forever.  I've attended countless science lectures and demonstrations.  Here in Boston, the global warming awareness group 350 (Too late: 350, the scientifically calculated maximum ratio of CO2 in our atmosphere before we pass the point of no return has expired; we've reached 400) has held numerous rallies -- fun events in Christopher Columbus Park, with people wearing wet suits and swim gear, symbolizing the day Boston will be swallowed by rising sea levels.  The other day, I attended a 350 demo at Revere Beach.  Like all such demos, it had a catchy name:  Hands Across the Sand.  Less than a dozen people showed up.

Remember when the public was actually aware of the threat of global warming?  A failing economy and escalating culture war seems to have diverted our attention, even as our towns and cities flood, burn or sail off into the storm clouds.  What does it take to wake the public up again?  If a twister a mile wide tearing across Oklahoma doesn't do it, what will?  A major flood in Boston or New York?  The scenes of devastation in the storm's wake brought tears to the eyes of a TV reporter.  It made the bombing of Oklahoma City seem almost insignificant by comparison.  This time, there's no terrorist to execute; we can't reclaim control of our lives so easily this time.  (We could try a few more executions as sacrifices to the storm gods--the way our culture's going, I wouldn't put it past us.  I doubt it would help, though.)  Switching to clean, renewable energy sources and redesigning our cities to weather the existing damage might.  If there's time.

Time's running short, folks.  How many more wake-up calls do we need?