October 28, 2006


The End of the World As We Know It? (Jane Smiley, October 28, 2006, HuffingtonPost.com)

In a week or so, the New York Review of Books is going to publish an article by James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis (in which the Earth is viewed as more than an ecosystem, closer to a living being, that can be healthy or diseased, and can change, through evolution, from one state to the other). Lovelock will declare that the Earth's temperature is about to rise five to eight degrees centigrade (depending on where you are -- more at the poles, less in the tropics), and that this temperature rise will have disasterous consequences for all life, eventually, for example, reducing the human population from six billion to two hundred million, mostly living in the far north, and, as another example, submerging the British Isles, creating out of the highest points of land an archipelago, where some, but not much, habitation will be possible. As for the western United States, done for, along with much of the rest of the world, and civilization as we know it, of course. [...]

But to get back to Lovelock, horrible as it is, Iraq is not the point, Iraq is only the canary in the mine, giving voice to the coming cataclysm. Not even the US is the point, although since 1980, the Republicans have been pandering to the greedy appetites of Americans for driving big vehicles, arming themselves, and thinking themselves superior to everyone in the world. They have egged Americans on to destroying the world's environment for the sake of more and more goods, and now America is in big trouble. But empires come and go. Get over it.

What is the point is human survival. If Americans had started taking the meaning of oil dependence seriously in 1977, when Jimmy Carter asked us to, or had not ridiculed the idea of climate change in 1992, when Al Gore brought it up, we might have gotten a start by this time in reducing emissions, we might not be looking at one horrific disaster paving the way for another.

But we are. There aren't many tyrants in history who can truthfully say they put the entire future of civilization at risk just to make a buck and feel the power, but Dick Cheney and the Pnackers can. So here's a word to the 200 million who will someday be left: Good luck, and it was these guys who pulled the trigger.

What's especially quaint about the anti-human Left is that they appear not t grasp that their belief that human engineering will cause some kind of catastrophic global warming is identical to their belief that they could human engineer a Marxist utopia.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2006 9:19 AM

Every word of this is downright stupid, but I would point out that the first American leader to address our dependency on foreign oil was Richard Nixon. Nobody listened then, and they aren't listening now.

And if we're all going to go swimming soon, I would rather be in Wyoming than Manhattan.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 28, 2006 9:55 AM

Especially when Manhattan will be under water.

Posted by: erp at October 28, 2006 10:01 AM

Oh, goody, how are they going to stop the continents from drifting back together????

NYC is destined to be underwater no matter what they do.

That's why we have to get off this rock.

Now if he would debate Dennis Avery or Fred Singer, authors of Unstoppable Global Warming.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 28, 2006 10:43 AM

Aside from ready access to dirty pictures, the wonder of the Internet is its ability to give wide voice to the most banal lunacy at supposedly respectable sites, and to them have others believe that just because it's on those sites, it must be a creditable analysis.

Posted by: John at October 28, 2006 2:52 PM

So the author doesn't like my car, my guns or my country. Guess what I have to say to him and the horse he rode in on.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 28, 2006 3:20 PM

IIRC, James Lovelock is pro-nuclear, i.e., he's not necessarily nuts.

That doesn't make him right.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at October 29, 2006 3:03 AM